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March 29, 2016

Lexi Thompson

Rancho Mirage, California

KRAIG KANN: Welcome to the media center here at the ANA Inspiration. We welcome up the Rolex ranked No. 3 player in the world, with seven career LPGA victories. Say hello to Lexi Thompson, who also has a robe and has jumped into the pond. But the first thing that Rolex No. 3, that has to feel pretty good. Top ranked American now. How do you come in with that process?

LEXI THOMPSON: Well, yeah, it definitely feels good to be No. 3 in the world, top American. But I think all of our goals is to be No. 1 in the world, but always to be the top American is definitely a number one goal of mine.

KRAIG KANN: You've been climbing toward that. You've made unbelievable progress over the last ten months. You had a good fall, you went overseas and went back overseas this spring and you won again. How is your game right now? Would you say it's the best it's ever been since you've been on Tour?

LEXI THOMPSON: Well, last year was a big year for me. I played very consistent overall, a lot of Top 10 finishes and a few wins there. I've just been working on the mental side of the game a lot more, and think that's what's helped me out the most is being more positive on and off the golf course. Just trying to get my game more consistent and with the off-season I just worked a lot on short game and just trying to improve on the things I need to improve on.

KRAIG KANN: I've got to ask a follow-up. Working on the mental game, being more positive. Did you feel like personally you let yourself down? Were you disappointed in yourself out on the golf course? Because the results are pretty good.

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I started working with John Denney the beginning of last year, so I think that was a tribute to why I played so well last year and it helped me out a lot. I just felt like I was getting too down on myself out on the golf course and I needed to improve on that. That was holding me back. I needed to visualize the shots I wanted to hit and commit to them and be more positive. Even if I did hit a bad shot, pick myself up and go to the next one with a good attitude.

KRAIG KANN: If you're looking for good vibes my gut tells me that drive in here, you're laughing already, what's that like coming back and knowing you've won here before and the specialness of this place, if you will?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, this place brings back such amazing memories. I don't know if it's just the drive in, I think it's the whole area and the atmosphere of this tournament just gives me chills. Jumping into Poppie's Pond was probably the best memory of my career, winning this tournament. Just the history behind this tournament, the tradition jumping into Poppie's Pond, it's always been a dream of mind to jump into that pond, and to do it with my family in 2014 was a huge deal for me. So I always come here with a smile on my face.

KRAIG KANN: You were at the champions dinner last night. What's that like for those who might not have had that front row seat to something like that?

Well, it's a huge honor. Just to be in the room with past champions, role models, legends of the game, women that I've looked up to, it's a big deal. Just to be there in the same room with them, talk to them, get some advice or just -- they're so nice and like I said, to be in the same room with them, it's a huge honor to me.

KRAIG KANN: Do you lean on them for advice or do you feel like you've kind of, not that you can go it alone, but do you lean on them for tips? How are you, Nancy Lopez one of the great ambassadors or a Patty Sheehan or somebody like Pat Bradley who was there last night, what do you try to get from them?

LEXI THOMPSON: I feel like Nancy Lopez has probably been my biggest role model besides my brothers growing up. Her being my captain on Junior Solheim Cup team and then being one of the assistant captains at the Solheim Cup team last year, I know I can always go to her for advice and she's always there for me. She's such a sweet lady and has given so much back to the game, which is what I want to do. So that's why I've always looked up to her ever since I was little.

KRAIG KANN: You come in here obviously having played good golf, but also representing golf on a New York City trip with Jordan Spieth that a lot of people I'm sure saw pictures and that sort of stuff. What was that experience like? You were promoting Drive, Chip & Putt, which is taking place at Augusta at the end of the week. What was that whole experience like for you?

LEXI THOMPSON: It was a great experience. It was so much fun. I honestly don't think I've seen Jordan since the Junior Ryder Cup. Those pictures that they had posted. So it was great to see him again and catch up a little bit. But to be there and promote the Drive, Chip & Putt that's happening the Sunday before the Masters is a really big deal for all these little kids. Just to grow the game and to see the excitement on their faces with the fist pumping, the cheering and all of that at the Masters, it's a big deal for them. But to see the excitement on the kids faces playing golf, it's quite an honor to go and promote that big deal for them.

Q. You were at that Olympic media news conference and then here this week with the conference going on, a lot of Olympians here. How many Olympians have you met? Has anyone specifically made an impact on you? Just generally overall, how is it motivating you with the Olympics coming up?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I went to the media summit here in California just a few weeks ago, and it was quite the experience. I got to meet some Olympians, I got to meet Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas, Ryan Lochte, and it kind of just put it all into perspective just realizing that it's real coming up, the golf being back in the Olympics after such a long time. Then I saw Lindsey Vonn there in the lunch room which was pretty cool, another Red Bull athlete, so it was cool to see her once again.

But it's always great to just surround yourself with top athletes and get to see the training that they do and the attitudes that they have.

Q. Do you feel like with the Olympics coming up, I mean, I know you've thought about it, is it a pressure thing or do you think that might be even moreover whelming than maybe a Solheim Cup or what you'll deal with at the UL International Crown coming up?
LEXI THOMPSON: Once I found out golf was back in the Olympics, that was my number one goal to be on that team. Any time there is a team event that I can represent my country on that schedule, that's always my number one goal to represent my country. There is no higher honor than that, and it's always the best feeling to win for your country or to make putts for your country. Just the pressure and the adrenaline rush, it's a big deal. But the Olympics should be interesting to see how it goes. I'm sure excited and hopefully I'll be there in Rio.

Q. The day that you spent in New York City with Jordan, you both have had such unique experiences, not many people know what it's like to be in your shoes, but you guys do know what the other has gone through to some extent. How much did you guys talk about golf during that day? What did you talk about?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say throughout the whole day we probably got to spend 30 minutes with each other, which is pretty crazy, because we were bouncing from interview to interview. He was off at probably three or four different ones than I was.

But when we were together we didn't really talk about golf. We talked about, like I guess he just got a new house and where it's at and what's in it and all that stuff. So it wasn't really golf talk. It was more catching up to see how we're doing and how everything is going. I haven't seen him in forever, so it was great to catch up.

Q. Talking about Olympics again. It's coming back to the Olympics this year. What do the Olympics mean to you?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well golf is back in the Olympics since 1904. So it's just a big deal for me to be able to represent my country. But growing up I wasn't able to say that I wanted to be an Olympian because golf wasn't in the Olympics. So to have golf in the Olympics it's just showing how much the game of golf is growing, honestly. After golf is in the Olympics it's just going to grow even more.

But to be able to represent my country, words can't even describe the feeling that I get when I tee it up, wearing my red White and blue, and hearing the crowds cheer for me. There is just so much adrenaline, like I said. It's the best feeling.

Q. Will you go to the opening ceremonies or try to stay for the closing ceremonies? Is that something that you're trying to fit into your schedule?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't quite decided on opening ceremonies, but I will definitely be there for closing.

KRAIG KANN: Maybe with a medal.


Q. Lexi, you've really embraced the marketing side of things the last few years and done it well. How can the Olympics further not just your brand but other golfers individual brands on top of all the team stuff and the national representing your country and all that? How could you make that help your brand go further?
LEXI THOMPSON: That's a tough question. I just really think the Olympics in general having golf in them is going to grow the sport dramatically. I think we'll grow a whole different fan base that doesn't watch golf that will start watching golf because it's in the Olympics. But I think individually that we can grow our own brand. It's just our attitudes on the golf course, what we bring on the golf course, our games. But how much we give back to the fans and, I don't know, I guess how we hold ourselves out on the golf course.

Q. Is it to you a great opportunity for players such as Lydia, say, to have the whole world know her better?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, of course. I mean, we have the International Crown and then we have Solheim Cup. But International Crown allows seven other countries to be able to represent their country, which is great. Unlike the Solheim Cup it's just USA against Europe. So it gives other girls from other countries an opportunity to represent their country. I think that's great for Lydia and she should be given that opportunity.

Q. Follow-up to what she asked you about the branding and the business side of this game, when you're the No. 3 ranked player in the world with hopes of No. 1, you've been on the covers of magazines now because of your accolades on the golf course. You give back to things like LPGA, USGA Girls Golf, PGA, junior league, those types of things. You have to make decisions, and I know you have a team that helps you and supportive family and all of that, has that been a real challenge for you to learn the business side of what goes with being the top ranked American or a face of the LPGA or something you embrace?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it's more of something that I've braced over the years. Realizing what I want to do with the game, not only what I bring to the table on the course, but how I want to give back with charity-wise or programs that I want to be involved with, giving back to the game of kids getting involved, like the USGA Girls Golf program or the PGA Junior League. I want little kids to pick up a club earlier and get involved with the game.

I think records are made to be broken and kids need to just start playing golf. It's great to see the kids getting so excited about the game and get started at such a young age. To see how good they are, it's truly incredible.

Q. Are you high energy by the end of the day or are you exhausted by the autographs and all the stuff that goes with it?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm pretty tired at the end of the day, but that's golf. It's like six miles of walking and then signing autographs, but I love signing autographs. No matter how my day is, I always love to give back to the people that took time out of their day to watch me play and take pictures and sign autographs. It's a great part of my day.

Q. In the two years since you won here, you have, I don't want to say you're not as intense, you're still intense. You just seem cooler. You seem more comfortable with being Lexi Thompson. What's going on? What's led to that?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it's just more, like I was saying earlier, working on the mental side of the game. Not getting too hard on myself out on the golf course, and realizing it's just a game. It's what I do, it's not who I am. So just try not to get too hard on myself. Sometimes laugh at my bad shots, like last week I'm sure a lot of people saw, but to take it lightly.

Q. Has that helped you in carrying that off the golf course?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it definitely has. Don't get me wrong. I still get frustrated on the golf course with some bad shots, but you just have to learn to let it go and go into the next shot or the next hole and just forget about it.

Q. Lexi, when you looked at this year's schedule and saw what the start of this event basically there are like seven major events in a six-month span with the Olympics, International Crown and the five major championships, how do you view this stretch of six months and the opportunities that are there?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think 2016 is the biggest year for golf, especially on the women's side. Not only because golf is back in the Olympics, but we also have International Crown and our five majors this year and just added events each and every year with our new sponsors and everything.

So it's great for us, but it is a huge stretch coming up the next few months. But that's what we want. We want to stay busy. We want to keep on playing all around the world and in all these big tournaments. That's what we look forward to.

Q. A follow-up to that, how do you approach it scheduling-wise? Did you have to take a deep breath and look at how you're going to do your schedule or you put your nose down and play as much as you can through there?
LEXI THOMPSON: I definitely skip a few events. It's just more I'm picking and choosing. I don't usually like to play more than four weeks in a row, which I know that might change this year, but, yeah. Some golf courses suit my game a lot better than others, so it's more on just the right scheduling and making sure you're not tired out for the really big tournaments of the year.

Q. Speaking of golf courses that fit your game, this one seems to fit your game pretty well. What is it about the course that works best for your game?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say that I get to hit driver a lot. I definitely hit a good amount of drivers out here, so definitely suits my game, but really you just have to keep it in the fairway out here. The rough is up really big this year. Probably the highest I've ever seen it. But the course is in great shape, so I just really look forward to always playing here this week.

Q. I was going to ask about the rough. It does seem like it's up over the last four or five years. Is that going to maybe change the strategy on some of the holes with driver as opposed to something else?
LEXI THOMPSON: No, no, not really (laughing). I do hit some 3-woods out here, which you just need to because some of the doglegs I run out of room, so I'll hit a few 3-woods, but a lot of drivers also.

Q. If you were assessing your game coming in here, 10 being top of my game, ready to go, let's go tomorrow morning and forget the Wednesday activities, where do you assess yourself?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I feel pretty ready, so I don't want to be arrogant, but a 10. I feel pretty ready. I mean, I think that's how everybody's attitude should be going into the week with a positive attitude and feeling about their game.

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