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June 8, 2016

Lexi Thompson

Sammamish, Washington

KRAIG KANN: Good afternoon everybody, welcome here to Sahalee Country Club, and the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Great pleasure to welcome in the Rolex ranked No. 3 player in the world, Lexi Thompson. Great to have you. Been here a couple of days. What do you think of this place?

LEXI THOMPSON: I got in Sunday afternoon, and it was beautiful just driving into here. It's quite the place. The golf course is in amazing shape for us. Difficult. Tight. But it's definitely major material.

KRAIG KANN: Everybody is saying that. Difficult. Tight. Let's talk about some statistics for you. A lot of people want to know how that plays out for a player that plays your game. You lead the Tour in driving distance at 284.3. You're second in greens in regulation. That's an unbelievable combination. How important, actually, is the length this week or does it matter at all? Is this all fairways and greens?

LEXI THOMPSON: You know, that's a tough question, because length is actually important, because the greens are very firm. So you want as short of a shot in as possible. You don't want long irons coming into the greens, especially if they start tucking pins.

But it's very important to just stay in the fairways and get a fairway shot. Because even if you hit on the side of the fairways you can get blocked by the side trees. It's very important to just place your ball in the right area.

KRAIG KANN: You own a driver.

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, there's a good amount of drivers, still.

KRAIG KANN: Ariya Jutanugarn doesn't even have the driver in the bag this week.

LEXI THOMPSON: My driver is in the bag, and it's being pulled out a lot.

KRAIG KANN: Get that on the record. Another question about how you come in this week. It's interesting, top 10 finishes in five of the last six starts for you. But I think it's almost fair to say because of what Ariya has been doing, you almost come in a little under the radar. They know you're a contender, everybody knows that, but it's not like everybody is talking about Lexi, is that weird?

LEXI THOMPSON: Ariya has been playing amazing golf. Everybody knows how great of a player she is. She's super long and just consistent overall. It was a matter of time before she broke through and won a lot. So it's great to see her playing so well.

But, yeah, I think everybody is coming in a little under the radar with what she's done the last few tournaments. I think it's a good thing.

KRAIG KANN: How do you feel about you?

LEXI THOMPSON: I feel great about my game. I've had a lot of good tournaments in the past, this year in general. So just going to go out there, just stay positive, and not get ahead of myself. It's a major week, so it will be a long, grueling week, so just got to stay in it.

Q. How nice is it for you to really have the Olympic berth locked up? There's so many players scrambling with a month to go. What are your thoughts on the Olympics leading up to it?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it's amazing. I think it shows how much golf is growing as a sport. Once I heard that golf is back in the Olympics after such a long time. It's an amazing experience to be able to say you're an Olympian. The team is picked July 11th, so I still have some golf to be played. It's an honor to represent your country in any tournament, for that matter, but to be an Olympian is the had highest honor.

KRAIG KANN: The difference is, you're not only ranked No. 3 in the world but you are now the highest ranked American playing. A few things have changed for you the last year as you continue to build the resume. Seven time LPGA winner, you've got the Major Championship, you've got UL International Crown coming up where you're not just going to be a team member, you're the highest ranked member. How do you feel about that? Is that pressure? Aside from honor, how do you take it?

LEXI THOMPSON: I wouldn't say it's too much of pressure. I think every person's goal out here is to be No. 1 in the world. But to be No. 1 American, it is a big deal for me. There are so many great players out here. It's such a global Tour. It really doesn't matter where you're from, you have to bring the talent to the table and see where it goes. I'm focusing on my game and see where it goes.

Q. I wanted to take you back on what Kraig opened with. I know you guys played longer golf courses on Tour. But how many courses do you play with this combination of length and kind of restrictive views or hitting out of the tunnel? And second part of that is the risk/reward par-4s, which ones do you see, what holes do you see where driver could really give you an advantage, if you choose to push it out there?
LEXI THOMPSON: Let's see, well, there's not too many golf courses, first of all, that are this long and this tight. Some of these tee shots just right off the tee, you can't start it right or left, or you're hitting a tree off the tee box to begin with. It's a very demanding tee shot golf course. That's good. That's what a major should be, and I think that's what we see in our major championships overall on the LPGA.

There's probably more on the back nine, I would say, with hitting driver. There's a lot of tight tee shots on the back nine, but if you hit driver and hit the fairway and give yourself a shorter shot in, it definitely helps.

KRAIG KANN: To follow up on that, where would you stack Sahalee up? The rave reviews we've heard from so many players that have come in here, and out on the range, this championship has kind of taken on a different feel.

LEXI THOMPSON: Being here at Sahalee I would rate this definitely at the top. This is one of the best golf courses that I've seen for a major championship. And it's an honor to be here, first of all. But just how the course is laid out for us and the amazing shape that it's it in. The greens or rolling very pure. It's going to be a great week. It's going to be tough. And I think that's what we all want.

Q. How many drivers do you think you will hit? When you can't hit driver, how hard is it for you not to hit driver?
LEXI THOMPSON: Hard. I would say I probably hit close to ten drivers, I would say. But if I don't I hit one hybrid and then if I'm not hitting driver it's 3-wood on a few of the dog leg ones, because sometimes my driver will run out. I definitely have to lay back with a 3-wood on some of the holes.

Q. Does your caddie ever have to talk you out of a driver?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, we go through it once we get up to the tee box. We go through what the run outs are, and how much my ball will roll out, because in the afternoon it plays totally different out here. The greens are a lot firmer and my ball was going a lot further in the afternoon. It does play different. It's something you have to factor in.

Q. How much have you kind of looked at 17? What are your thoughts about that hole? How much it could be a swing hole just later in the tournament?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm trying to think of 17.


LEXI THOMPSON: That's a great par-3. The pin's been in the middle the few times I played it. I hit a 7-iron and a 6-iron. So that's a tough green, because even though it's downhill, my 7- and 6-iron rolled out seven to eight yards on the green. So if they put a front pin it will definitely be demanding. But that's a great par-3, especially if they tuck the pins at all.

Q. How much does it play as a swing hole?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it definitely could. 16 and 17. 16 is a tough hole to get it in the fairway and stay above the hill. And a tough second shot in. I think 17 will definitely be a good hole to make a little twist on, especially coming on Sunday.

Q. Lexi, Jim Mclean, your instructor for years, grew up around here. Can we have a couple of words about him? And what are your memories?
You qualified for the U.S. Open at 12 years old. Most people in this room were playing little league baseball at 12 years old. Just your recollections of that, please?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I worked with Jim Mclean a while, probably five, six years. He's a great guy and amazing instructor. I'm not very technical, at all, so he knew how to work with me on just feeling things in my golf swing that I needed to work on and the is shot shapes I needed to work on. We made a great team for the years that we worked together.

Qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open I can't describe. I don't think I realized what I did when I qualified. But once I was there and seeing the role models I looked up to, it was an amazing experience. I didn't make the cut, obviously, but I stayed there and signed every autograph. I just wanted to soak it all in. That was definitely the reason why I'm out here today.

Q. You were chasing autographs or giving them?
LEXI THOMPSON: No, I was giving them. The few people that wanted it.

Q. Inbee is on the doorstep to the Hall of Fame here. Can you just comment on what you've come to admire about her game?
LEXI THOMPSON: What don't you admire about her golf game? I've played with her it seems like basically every tournament I play with Inbee. But she's just got a great attitude on the golf course. You can never tell when she's playing bad or good. And I think that's what you need on the golf course to keep you steady. But just a consistent ball striker, always straight, just consistent off the tee and great iron game, distance control in general. The way she rolls it and chips around the greens, it's such an amazing touch.

Q. You said being an Olympian is the highest honor. What is your reaction when you see pros, perhaps on the Men's Tour also on the LPGA Tour who aren't prioritizing Olympic golf, who are skipping it for a variety of reasons, mainly because they're just not interested?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, it's their decision. Everybody has a different outlook on every decision that they make. But to me I've always said growing up, anytime I can represent my country it's the highest honor. Growing up I wasn't able to say I could be an Olympic golfer. Now that I can, it's a dream come true. I don't understand why people don't get that. Winning a gold medal would be higher than anything, any win, anywhere.

KRAIG KANN: Speaking of being an ambassador, we have four girls in the front who won the Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National. And one of them has a question. I'm going to let you state your name and where you're from and then ask your question to Lexi.

ALYSSA MONTGOMERY: My name is Alyssa Montgomery, and I'm from Knoxville, Tennessee. When you're not playing to your best or you hit a really bad shot what do you tell yourself to kind of get your head back in the more positive mental game versus the negative mental game?

LEXI THOMPSON: That's a great question. First off, congratulations to you all. Yeah, it's tough. It's something I've learned along the way. Since I turned pro in 2010 that's something that I realized that I needed to work on. I was getting too frustrated with myself, getting too down. And it kind of compounded to the next shot. I realized I need to change that.

Now if I hit a bad shot, I get frustrated with myself for a few seconds, few steps. And then forget about it, go find the golf ball and just go into the next one with a positive attitude, take your time, don't rush and just visualize a great shot on the next one, and just commit to it. That's all you can do. You just don't want it to compound the negativity. You've got to be positive over the next one.

KRAIG KANN: You're an ambassador for LPGA USGA Girls Golf you're also an ambassador for the PGA Junior League. You spend a lot of time with the young girls, who obviously are getting a great experience this week. Look at the microphone getting passed on, they you will want to ask questions now. Everyone is talking about the young guns on this Tour and the youth, and nobody had won over the age of 23 all year. You're like a veteran now, okay?

LEXI THOMPSON: Seems like it.

KRAIG KANN: What is that like from your perspective as a still very young, professional athlete to see the youth movement going the other way right now on your Tour?

LEXI THOMPSON: It's great to see. I think everybody out here wants to see the game growing at a younger age. And I think all these golf programs, like the PGA Junior League, the Girls Golf Program, I think that's just why everybody is getting started at such a young age, and why we're seeing girls out here at a young age. We want to see the game grow and the smiles on the kids faces, following, and we want them to pick up a club earlier.

KAYLA SAM: I'm Kayla Sam, and I'm from Anaheim Hills California. How often do you practice and play golf?

LEXI THOMPSON: Let's see, when I'm in season, when I go home I usually take like that day off from traveling. And then I'll start practicing for about two to three hours a day, and then I'll go out and play 9 to 18 holes, just to keep the groove in my swing and being confident. I work a lot more on short game when I'm home. I don't really go to the range and hit buckets of golf balls. I'd rather go out and play, visualize my shot and keep score, because that's how it is in tournaments. But off-season it's a lot more, especially when I start practicing. It's six to seven hours out on the golf course.

KRAIG KANN: Last one from me, before we let you go, Lexi. How would you assess where you are right now with your career, with the one major, the seven wins, not that we're all keeping track or anything like that. That's really what's in your head. But what is in your head based on that?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, it's something that I think about. I try to remind myself of what I've accomplished because you always have to do that. The last few years have really been good for me, just overall the mental side of the game that I've been working on, being more positive and more confident on the golf course and not getting too down if I have a bad tournament. I think that's what helped me out the most working John Denny has helped me out with my breathing and putting that into my routine. The last few years having the consistent finishes that I have and the few wins has helped overall my attitude out here, and hopefully continue that.

KRAIG KANN: More progress with the skill or more progress with the mental aspect of the game in your own mind?

LEXI THOMPSON: I would actually say it's probably more mentally, and then it helps with the actual skill factor, just being more positive over every shot and visualizing the good shot that you want to hit has helped my skill level.

KRAIG KANN: Both will come into play this week at Sahalee.

LEXI THOMPSON: Yes, it definitely will.

KRAIG KANN: Good luck to you, Lexi Thompson. Thanks so much for being in here.

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