Navistar LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, The Senator
September 18, 2012
Tuesday Pre-tournament notes and interviews
Prattville, Alabama welcomes the LPGA Tour this week for the final event before October’s Asian swing. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Senator Course hosts the Navistar LPGA Classic for the fifth year in a row and will feature a field of 138 players vying for a $195,000 first-place prize.
Back to defend her title is rookie standout Lexi Thompson, who shattered the LPGA age record last year when she became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days. As a non-member, Thompson carded rounds of 66-68-67-70 to finish with a 17-under 271, a 5-stroke win over Tiffany Joh. Shortly after her win she petitioned for LPGA membership and was approved for the 2012 season.
“It feels amazing to be back here,” Thompson says of her return. “It was a great experience, especially having my dad on the bag caddying for me. I can't even describe the feelings coming up the 18th hole, it was just so overwhelming just to experience all the fans cheering for me coming up 18.”
The No. 2 rookie this season yields an impressive rookie résumé with two top-5 finishes including a tie for fifth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and a tie for second at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She enters the week after a tie for 17th at the RICOH Women’s British Open and says she is pleased with her play this season.
“I've played pretty consistent,” Thompson says. “Before those last two events I struggled a little bit, but it's golf. You've got to stay strong, you've just got to work through it. I feel pretty good about my game, just working to improve on little things.”
Tribute to the warriors… Christina Kim, Irene Cho and Jennifer Johnson were joined by two soldiers from the Wounded Warrior Project on the driving range to exchange some golf tips and stories at the Navistar LPGA Classic.
The Wounded Warrior Project has a longstanding relationship with the event and some of the LPGA Tour players with some donating to the cause for the last several years. This year, Johnson plans to donate 50 percent of her earnings to honor the injured veterans.
Lexi Thompson donated $20,000 to the cause after her win, and ever since then she has done several charity events for many branches of the military.
“It all the started pretty much here with the Wounded Warriors,” Thompson says of her charity projects. “But I've done a lot of charity events for just the military overall, for Birdies for the Brave, with my brother. Like at my course I've done a lot of events just trying to give back and bring awareness to anybody in the service and I really appreciate what you guys do. Yeah, when I won here, I gave 20,000 to Wounded Warrior Project. It's an honor for me and I just wanted to give back and bring awareness to that.”
Tweet of the day: “Spent some time with and gave a few tips to a few heroes with @wwpinc with @TheIreneCho and @JJohnson_LPGA. pic.twitter.com/pFIBoPBs” -- @TheChristinaKim
MODERATOR: All right. I'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 25 and defending champ Lexi Thompson into the interview room. I know last year was a special win for you. You became the youngest winner in LPGA history at 16. That has since been broken, but can you talk about some of your memories of last year and how this feels to be back here again?
LEXI THOMPSON: It feels amazing to be back here. It was a great experience, especially having my dad on the bag caddying for me. I can't even describe the feelings coming up the 18th hole, it was just so overwhelming just to experience all the fans cheering for me coming up 18.
MODERATOR: Are there any differences in the course this year, anything different from last year that you remember?
LEXI THOMPSON: No differences in the holes, but the greens are a little quicker, I think. The rain has sort of slowed them down, but it's in amazing shape for us.
MODERATOR: Last week you tied for 17th, at Kingsmill you tied for 14th. Do those give you some momentum heading into this week and how are you feeling about your game this week?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, they gave me a lot of confidence the past two weeks. It was my first time to England, so I got the full experience of the English weather. It was definitely different golf but the last two weeks have been really good for me and I'll just try to bring it into this week and try to play well.
MODERATOR: You're one of the top rookies this season. How are you feeling about your performance this year?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm feeling pretty good about it. I've played pretty consistent. Before those last two events I struggled a little bit, but it's golf. You've got to stay strong, you've just got to work through it. I feel pretty good about my game, just working to improve on little things.
Q. Talk about your favorite memory from last year’s win.
LEXI THOMPSON: Probably coming up to 18 was definitely the most memorable, but maybe 16 shot, the par 3 that almost went in the hole, I actually pulled it quite a bit and took the all the way down to the hole, but it was a good feeling to get that on my way in. Tiffany Joh made a run for me on those last few holes, got it down to three shots and she wasn't giving up, and that's what I like, a challenge.
Q. You’ve got some fans here in the back corner with the Wounded Warrior Project. Can you talk about how you got involved with the group?
LEXI THOMPSON: It all the started pretty much here with the Wounded Warriors, but I've done a lot of charity events for just the military overall, for Birdies for the Brave, with my brother. Like at my course I've done a lot of events just trying to give back and bring awareness to anybody in the service and I really appreciate what you guys do. Yeah, when I won here, I gave 20,000 to Wounded Warrior Project. It's an honor for me and I just wanted to give back and bring awareness to that.
MODERATOR: Last week was kind of a long week at the British. Can you talk about how you refocus after that and traveling and the crazy weather that was there? How do you refocus after that?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was a very long week. I got the full effect of the weather. Saturday we didn't even play, 36 holes on Sunday and it was raining, at least 30‑mile per hour winds and it was cold. It was definitely tiring. I'm not going to say I'm wide away right now. I woke up at 6:00 just ready to go. So one more night's sleep and hopefully I'll be ready for this event and go out and have fun.
Q. Can you talk about Lydia Ko and how she broke the age record.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, Lydia, I've actually gotten to play with her a few times. I played with her last week in the British. She's just a very good player, she's really consistent, and once I saw her take that lead there on the 18th hole, you know, she's just a natural player. She's born with a gift. I'm doing my thing, doing what I love and just trying to keep on improving with my game, that's all I can do.