The last time Lexi Thompson teed it up at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, she was just 12 years old. “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” was her favorite television show. Things have definitely changed for Thompson since 2007 and the now 26-year-old admits she doesn’t remember much from that week in Southern Pines, except the nerves she was feeling as a pre-teen teeing it up with the best in the world.
“I don't remember much of the golf course besides No. 10's tee shot because I just remember how nervous I was, and I was so happy that it was raining because there was nobody out there following,” said the 11-time LPGA Tour winner. “But it was just an amazing experience. I remember driving up with my parents, practicing my signature on the way, and just embracing it all.”
Thompson is making her 16th start in the U.S. Women’s Open this week and is still looking to capture her first victory in the major championship, a title that’s eluded the American superstar for far longer than she’d like. She’s had five top-10s in the event, including a solo third last year at The Olympic Club, where she played her final seven holes at +5 to miss the playoff with Nasa Hataoka and eventual champion Yuka Saso by a single stroke. While the missed opportunity was certainly heart-breaking for Thompson, she hasn’t let it linger and has been working hard on keeping the game in perspective and enjoying her life off the golf course.
“Didn't go the way I wanted to, but every time I tee it up there's always something to learn,” said Thompson. “I always say there's really no feeling, you're always learning. Every time I tee it up, there's something to be processed, to learn. It didn't go my way, it was frustrating, but it happens. It's important to me to just realize that it's not all my life. Yes, I get frustrated with loss of events or troubled rounds, but you just have to realize at the end of the day you still have your family around you, still have the people that love you and love you no matter what. That's the most important thing to always realize. It's just a game.”
It’s a mindset that’s served Thompson well this season – she’s had four top-10s so far in 2022, including a T4 finish in The Chevron Championship and a solo second in her most recent start at the Cognizant Founders Cup – and she’s more than in form with the second major of the year on tap. But Pine Needles is a golf course that can eat a player’s lunch and par is sometimes a really good score, something that Thompson is well-aware as she looks ahead to Thursday.
“It's an amazing golf course. I got to play a full 18 yesterday,” she said. “It's in great shape for us. It’s a second-shot golf course. Obviously keeping it in the fairway is very important, not getting into the sandy areas. But with the runoff greens and just kind of placing it center of the green sometimes taking your par and getting your two-putts and getting off the green is sometimes important out here.”