Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Capitol Hill, Senator Course
September 18, 2011
Final-round notes and interviews
Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in the 61-year history of the LPGA Tour by capturing a five-shot victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic. Thompson, who is 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old, shot a final round 2-under 70 to help secure her victory over Tiffany Joh, who finished in second at 12-under-par.
Before Thompson's win, Marlene Hagge had held the distinction as the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour. Hagge was 18 years, 14 days when she won the 1952 Sarasota Open, which was an 18-hole event. Hagge won two 18-hole events at the age of 18. The youngest winner of a multi-round event on the LPGA Tour had been Paula Creamer, who captured the 2005 Sybase Classic when she was 18 years, 9 months and 17 days.
Thompson is no stranger to breaking records. In 2007, she became the youngest person to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open at the age of 12. That same year she won the Westerfield Junior PGA Championship to become the youngest winner in Junior PGA Championship history.
Golfing is a way of life in the Thompson family. Lexi's oldest brother Nicholas, 28, is a member of the Nationwide Tour this season and spent the past three years on the PGA Tour. Her other brother Curtis, 18, is a freshman on the Louisiana State University men's golf team and her father, Scott, was her caddie this week on the Senator Course at the Robert Trent Jones Capitol Hill.
"Just being there with my dad, he was like, Lexi, just enjoy that walk," Thompson said of coming up the 18th to a huge ovation from the crowd. "He told me, 'I am going off to the side because I might cry.' You know, I definitely cried after I finished. Just finishing that with my dad on the bag, it was the best experience. I wouldn't be out here without my dad ‑‑ and my mom, of course."
Thompson, who carried a five-stroke lead into Sunday's final round, held steady for the majority the day on the course. She went through one tough stretch when she made two straight bogeys on No. 11 and 12. But the 16-year-old held her composure as her lead was cut to three shots thanks to four s, making back-to-back birdies on No. 16 and 17 to increase her lead back to five shots heading into the 18th hole. After just missing her birdie putt that would have given her four straight rounds in the 60s, Thompson tapped in her par putt to complete her impressive victory and during the trophy presentation, Thompson announced that she will donate $20,000 of her $195,000 first-prize check to the tournament's official charity, The Wound Warrior Project.
Video star: Tiffany Joh has become well-known on the LPGA Tour recently for the musical talent that she has shown in her You Tube videos, but the rookie has also been impressing with her golf. Joh shot a 4-under 68 in Sunday's final round to record a career-best runner-up finish.
Of course, Joh's success on the golf course should only bring more attention to her music videos as well. Joh's first video, "She Beats It" went viral when it was premiered during last week's Golf Channel telecast of the NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. She released her second video at this week's Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV titled "Grip It". Since being released on Tuesday, the video has gone viral with 33,527 views on YouTube. The video features several LPGA stars showcasing their dance moves including Beth Bader, Jenny Suh, Alison Walshe, Jeehaee Lee and Meredith Duncan.
Solheim Sendoff: The Navistar LPGA Classic marked the LPGA's final event before the biennial Solheim Cup takes place next week at Killeen Castle in Ireland. All 12 of the U.S. Solheim Cup team members and six of the 12 European Solheim Cup members were in the field for this week's tournament in Alabama.
Of the players who finished in the top-13, seven of them will be participating in next week's Solheim Cup. Six of those golfers will be playing for Team USA: Angela Stanford (3), Brittany Lang (T4), Stacy Lewis (T6), Morgan Pressel (T9), Paula Creamer (T12), and Juli Inkster (T14). European Team member Karen Stupples finished in a tie for fourth.
After play was finished on Sunday at the Navistar LPGA Classic, a send-off ceremony was held to wish all of the Solheim Cup competitors well during next week's event.
Golden ticket winners: Lexi Thompson, Tiffany Joh and Giulia Sergas punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Navistar LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf.
Birdies for a cause: This year's Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV is going above and beyond to help raise funds for this year's beneficiary, the Wounded Warrior Project. The par-3 16th has been designated as the "military hole". Navistar will donate $100 for every birdie made during this year's tournament to the Wounded Warrior Project. Over the past four years, the hole has averaged 83 birdies. In addition, a member of the military will be on the green to tend the flag during tournament play.
During Sunday's final round the 16th hole notched 25 birdies which raised $2,500 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Over the course of the four-day event, a total of 97 birdies were made on the hole. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi hit a hole-in-one on the 16th during Sunday's final round, holing out with a 9-iron from 136 yards, and earned an additional $1000 for the effort. So the total donation for the week was $10,700.
LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 124
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic champion, Lexi Thompson into the interview room. First off, thanks for joining us and congratulations.
LEXI THOMPSON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: You became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history today. Tell me your thoughts on that and what this whole experience has been like for you.
LEXI THOMPSON: It's been an amazing experience for me. I can't even describe the feelings that were going through my head this whole week. I look forward to this tournament every year. The course is in amazing shape for us, so this was the best experience.
MODERATOR: You talked a little bit yesterday about going into the final round with the lead, which you had done before. What did you do last night to kind of prepare yourself? Did you kind of just relax and not think too much?
LEXI THOMPSON: Exactly. I went to Outback for a few hours. I went with Janie Jackson and her family. You know, just talked. You know, just relaxing. I hung out with her for a few hours after and just talked and just relaxed. Talk about other things.
MODERATOR: How were the nerves on the first tee?
LEXI THOMPSON: I was definitely a little nervous, but they were controllable. Once I hit the first tee shot I was like, All right, I'm good.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through the round a little bit. Kind of how were your emotions all day throughout the round?
LEXI THOMPSON: I just really calm actually, until like Tiffany started on started on her birdie train there. Then it got a little exciting. So, you know, she got momentum going her way. It was great playing with her. It was so much fun. Just she is a great player. You know, I'm real happy for her. I just had a great time.
MODERATOR: Every little girl, including myself, who grew up and played golf dreams of winning on the LPGA Tour. What does it feel like to have that dream come true?
LEXI THOMPSON: It feels amazing. I can't even describe it. It's been my dream my whole life just to play out here. Getting a win right now, I can't describe the feelings, but it's the best feeling ever.
Q. What was going through your mind as you walked up the 18th green and you're getting that big applause walking with your dad?
LEXI THOMPSON: I loved it. Just being there with my dad, he was like, Lexi, just enjoy that walk. I am going off to the side because I might cry. You know, I definitely cried after I finished. Just finishing that with my dad on the bag, it was the best experience. I wouldn't be out here without my dad ‑‑ and my mom, of course.
Q. You are the youngest winner, but probably in your mind this win was overdue given how you contended here two years ago and took a lead into the final day earlier this year. In your mind, did this feel like it had taken a long time to happen?
LEXI THOMPSON: Sort of, but I just went to every tournament wanting to win. Obviously you're not going to win everything and you'll have bad tournaments. You just got to keep on plugging along and take one shot at a time. That's all you can do, just live in that moment.
Q. I asked you yesterday if not having won a tournament was a hurdle to cross. You have won a tournament now. Does it make a difference psychologically or mentally or as a golfer that you're now a tournament champion?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, definitely it does. I have a lot more confidence now. But I'm just going to go into every tournament like I always did. You know, knowing I can win now is just a lot better of a feeling. You know, just keeping it simple and just going along.
Q. Since you won you've got to come back, you know?
LEXI THOMPSON: Of course. I love this tournament. Why wouldn't I come back? I love this tournament. It's amazing.
Q. How many tournaments does your mother go to, if at all? And would you like her to come out here and see you every now and then for something like this? Does the thought of having her come up of having her come up with you in contention like this?
LEXI THOMPSON: I definitely wanted her to be here. She didn't even watch. She didn't watch any live scoring or anything on TV. She usually comes to the Open; she went to the LPGA Championship; she went ShopRite. So she was like, I'm not watching you the whole day. I watched you one hole yesterday and you bogeyed it. I'm like, Okay mom. Okay. But I really do wish she was here. She watched the last hole today and that's it.
I called her after. She was so excited. She was screaming. She obviously knew I won. She was like, Oh, my God I'm so proud of you. You know, typical stuff. She was scheming. I was like, All right.
Q. (No microphone.)
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't know what I'm doing tonight, but we're not driving back. I can tell you that. We're staying one more night here. But I don't know, when I'm home I'm celebrating. I'm getting my godparents, my mom and everybody, my friends. We're just going to hang out and celebrate. I don't know what we're doing.
Q. Also the Wounded Warriors, you decided to make a contribution with your winnings. Talk about what motivated you on that end.
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I think they deserve it. They give up their lives for us, you know, saving our country. I wore the pin every day. Donating to them is just you have to. I mean, look what they do for us. It's just amazing that they do that. I definitely want to give back.
Q. If it's no too private, what did you tell your dad or what did your dad tell you after you won?
LEXI THOMPSON: He just said to me, he just said that I was amazing. He said, I can't believe you just did that. (Laughing.) It was really a great feeling. When I was on my second shot on 18, he was like, You know, I'm probably going to cry so I'm not going to walk up with you. I'm keeping my sunglasses on. I'm like, All right dad. I'm‑mail going to cry, too. We can just cry together. But it was awesome.
Q. On the drive home with the trophy, do you like hold it the whole way?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I'm going to cuddle it. No, just kidding. (Laughter.) I don't know where it's going to two. It's definitely going in my trophy case. I can tell I that.
Q. Will I drink a Red Bull out of it at some point?
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, yeah, I know, I'm going to take a picture of me just pouring it. Now, I just got to put it in a special spot in my house ‑‑ well, in my room.
Q. What does a 16 year old do with $195,000?
LEXI THOMPSON: I have no idea. (Laughter.) I mean, I already have a car, so I don't know what I'm going to do with it. Just going to have fun and relax and hang out with my family and celebrate.
Q. Two years ago when I were 14, we talked to your dad each day during the tournament. At the end of it, he said, We're going to start looking for someone to carry your clubs for I. Now, how long do I want him to continue to that, and do I see that going on for a little while yet?
LEXI THOMPSON: Probably still for a little bit. We've gotten along a lot better on the golf course. I will say that. We used to fight a good amount. Now it's just so much more calm. We get along a lot better. I'm not sure. We'll probably be looking for someone eventually, but probably not right now.
Q. Your dad said you were a little bummed that you didn't finish all your rounds in the 60s. So when you missed that birdie putt at 18, were you actually a little disappointed?
LEXI THOMPSON: Not really. I mean, it was definitely my goal to get it to 60. I obviously wanted to make it. I still won, so...Definitely would have been a bonus. I just enjoyed being out here. Definitely my last group was a lot of fun today.
Q. Who drives tomorrow, you or your dad, and how good of a driver are you?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not driving. My dad is driving. I have my comforter in the back and my pillow. I am laying down. I pretty much bring stuff for like half the way on the way up here, watch movies.
Q. I don't know how far in the future it is, but do you want to going to college and be a pro golfer? Have you thought that far ahead, or do you want to leave the academics for later?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't really thought about it that much. I'm still in high school. One more year left, so I'm definitely finishing high school. For college I haven't even thought of it. It's always there, so I can definitely always do the courses.
Q. After she had her birdie run at the end and she gets to 16 and she stuck it in there, what was going through your mind then? Three strokes; she's right in birdie range; you almost put it in. Then what was going through your mind knowing that it's game on again.
LEXI THOMPSON: She was definitely on a birdie roll, that's for sure. I was expecting her to make the one on 16. It was like, All right, Lexi, just you have to make this one. I was expecting her to birdie all the way in the way she was going. Just trying to make pars and make a few birdies maybe.
Q. What was the difference, do you think, in today and the times when held the lead and couldn't hang on?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think I just took it a lot more slow today. Just stayed really calm. You know, I probably got a little fast at Avnet or here last year when I was leading. So I just slowed down my walking and just relaxed and just free swing.
Q. Is there anything you would say publically to your dad right now?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I love him, of course. Of course if it wasn't without him, I would definitely not be here. Having him on the bag and going through that experience with him, I wouldn't change it for anything.
Q. On the one end there's a lot really established golfers here. What's the kindest or most flattering words any of them have spoken to you since you won this tournament? Anything stick out?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, they all said, Great job after. Paula Creamer came up to me and said, If anybody was to change the record, it was you, and it should've been you. That meant a lot. And that I deserve it. So it definitely meant a lot to me.
Q. What one shot were most proud of in your round today?
LEXI THOMPSON: Probably ‑‑ I mean, 16 shot was good, but I obviously didn't plan to go over and play that ridge. 16 and 17 I guess were well‑played holes. I just had a great time out there. Playing with Tiffany, she kept me really relaxed. It was a great group.
Q. When Tiffany dumped the water on you, how surprising was it? Was it cold?
LEXI THOMPSON: I wasn't surprised at all. I was like, She's probably going to do it. I didn't see the water bottle though, so she did catch me by surprise. But it actually felt pretty good. It was like, Oh, God you're all well. I didn't know you sweated that much. I'm like, Of course. It's me. I'm like, You would do that to me.
Q. (Question regarding the Will You Marry Me Lexi sign.)
LEXI THOMPSON: Really?
Q. What do you think when you see that from teenagers?
LEXI THOMPSON: I heard about it. I didn't see it. I actually got a tweet yesterday saying Lexi, will you marry me. Not sure who it was. Just joking I said like, I do. But it's great to have all these fans out here. If it wasn't for them these tournaments wouldn't go along. Having the little girls out here just looking up to me, that's what I've always wanted. I just want to portray to them that I'm following my dreams.
TIFFANY JOH, Rolex Rankings No. 135
Q. 12‑under, second in the tournament. Tell me about your day.
TIFFANY JOH: It was actually slow at first. And then, I mean, I don't know what happened, but on the back nine I had four consecutive birdies just one after another. It was funny, because when my putt went in on 15 I actually got like goosebumps and everyone started cheering. So it was pretty cool, but at the same time, there was really no stopping Lexi today.
Q. Tell me about her game. You played with her.
TIFFANY JOH: I mean, she is most known for like how long she hits it and how far she flies it, but I think she doesn't get enough credit for how smart she played today and how good her iron shots are and how good she is at scrambling. There were a couple unlucky bounces she got today, and she didn't hit as many greens as I am sure she's been hitting the last three days. She scrambled so well and made some really key putts. I think she should definitely get more credit for the other parts of her game that are great as well.
Q. But your reaction to finishing second in this tournament.
TIFFANY JOH: I mean, it was funny, because when I first got here I looked at the course and I was like, I don't think this fits my game at all. I don't hit it very long and, you know, I'm not too much of a ball‑striker. But, you know, for some reason, things just really worked out this week for me, and I'm thrilled with how I finished.
Q. When you pulled to within three, are you thinking, I could really make a dogfight of this?
TIFFANY JOH: Um, I was trying not think about it just because at the Canadian Open I went into the final round tied for the lead and I kind of scoreboard watched all day and didn't work out very well for me. So today I was just like, Go out there and try to put as solid a round together as you can and don't get caught up in everything else.I wasn't thinking too much about where I was.
Q. What kind of player were you at 16 years old?
TIFFANY JOH: Um, not very good. (Laughing.) I think at 16 I was just learning how to match my golf clothes. (Laughter.) I'm not going to say I was very good.
Q. What's the world coming to with a 16 year old winning a tournament?
TIFFANY JOH: If it's Lexi, she's not your normal 16 year old, so, you know, I'll gratefully just take a back seat to that.
Q. The week started slow for and you ended with a bang. You've got to be happy with that?
TIFFANY JOH: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think it was a great experience to play in the final group. To watch Lexi play was incredibly humbling. We had a great week.
BRITTANY LANG, Rolex Rankings No. 31
Q. Minus-5 for the day; you started at minus-5; you're at minus-10. You're right up there. Tell me about your day.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I played really solid. You know, I hit the ball great and I made the putts I needed to make and stayed really patient and had a lot of fun. Played just really good golf. Those putts that sometimes go in, don't go in, they went in today, so it was good.
Q. There is always a chance you'll be in a playoff if Lexi doesn't produce. But on the whole, were you pleased with the week.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, absolutely. Fought hard on Thursday. I shot 3‑over on the front and then shot 4‑under, so I'm very happy with the week. I played really solid and doing a lot of good things.
Q. Tell me about Solheim. Are you ready for it? Are you looking forward to it?
BRITTANY LANG: Yes, I'm ready for it. I've been working hard and I'm extremely excited. It's the most fun I've ever had on a golf course, so I'm just ecstatic.
Q. Any outlook on how things will go or are you just going to go and have fun?
BRITTANY LANG: Definitely going to have fun. I love the girls. We're going to have so much fun. It's all good fun. We're all friends. It's going to be a good battle, but we're going to have a good time.
Q. And you're friends with the European...
BRITTANY LANG: Oh, yeah. You know, it'll be serious, but at the end day it's just golf. We're going to have fun.
Q. Tell me if you observed at all Thompson's round or game this tournament?
BRITTANY LANG: You know, I haven't really seen her play much. I've never played with her, but she's obviously very impressive being that young. I don't know how old she is, but I know she's young.
Q. She's 16.
BRITTANY LANG: To play like that, it's very impressive.