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March 27, 2018

Lexi Thompson

Rancho Mirage, California

THE MODERATOR: Welcome back. We're with our 2014 ANA Inspiration Champion and our World No. 2, Lexi Thompson. Lexi, thank you so much for joining today.


Q. We're going to jump right in. 2017 ANA Inspiration was not the week you were expecting. To lay the ground work, on Sunday you received a four-stroke penalty for playing your ball from the wrong place on Saturday and then subsequently signing an incorrect scorecard. As you received that penalty, tell me what was going through your mind as that all played out?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, that whole week I probably played some of the best golf that I've ever played. Didn't end up the way I wanted to, obviously. But, yeah, what was running through my mind, as everybody saw, I literally thought it was a joke.

It was April 1st earlier that week. I'm like, is this a joke right now? I wasn't expecting that at all. I had to obviously play on. It was tough to finish, but I knew I could make birdies and just have to finish strong, and the fans helped me out a lot with that.

Q. You led me into my next question. Immediately stepped up, birdied the next hole, played your way in to get into the playoff with So Yeon, which she did ultimately win. But the fan support out there seemed amazing for you. How deep did you have to dig to keep going? We all saw you sign the autographs and everything afterward, but how deep did you have to dig down into Lexi to make that happen?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I had to dig really deep. Honestly, the next tee shot I was crying. Basically every tee shot there was water in my eyes. But the fans were the only reason why I finished the way I did. I heard them chanting my name on every shot, every tee, I stood up, I heard them on the green chanting my name, and I was like, I have to finish strong for them. And just for myself, but they were the reason why I did.

Signing all those autographs, there was no question about that. They were the reason why I finished the way I did. Just to see them stay around and support me, it meant so much. I was going to sign every one no matter how much I was crying while I was doing it.

Q. You did have the fan support, but as the weeks went on you had to deal with the aftermath and everything that happened. What were the next few weeks and months like for you as you had to process everything that happened?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, they were rough. That night was extremely rough. I was screaming, crying. You know, I've relived it for a while. I had nightmares about it. You know, I still occasionally do. It's been rough, but you know the fans were behind me the weeks after, the months after.

I stayed off social media after that because media was blowing it up and making me feel terrible. So I just tried not to pay attention to any of that. I just hung out with my family, and just kind of stayed to myself, honestly, and just had to let it go and let time pass.

Q. As the time passed, 2017 was a great, but also tough year for you. You had this. You had your mom's illness, and thankfully we're very happy to have her with us. She's doing so much better. But, then, of course, the loss of your grandmother. But conversely, you had a career year. You won twice. You had six runner-up finishes. You run Race to the CME Globe, the stats keep going. Led the LPGA in scoring average in greens in regulation, one stat I liked. You played 79 rounds of golf and 61 of them were under par. Did you use the challenges that came throughout the whole year, everything, not just what happened here, to help spur on that tremendous year you had?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was a tough year on and off the golf course for me last year, but it was definitely some of the best golf I played. I don't know honestly how I played that good of golf with how much I had on my mind and how much going on, especially with my mom, and then towards the end with the passing of my grandmother. It was a lot to deal with.

But I still had to work on my game and just try to push through it. Just to see how strong my mom was made me get through the tough times and challenges that I was faced with. I had to push through it. I learned how strong I was dealing with this tournament last year and dealing with every challenge I was faced with going into the year.

Q. So we put '17 behind us and move into 2018. You had two Top 10s this year, runner-up finish in Thailand. Again, excelling in greens in regulation, currently 10th on the Tour. What is the state of your game now that we come into the ANA Inspiration?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I feel really good with where my game is at right now. I've played four events so far, two good, two bad, but I feel very good about where my game's at. I feel solid, and I absolutely love this golf course. I get to hit a lot of drivers.

It's been a bit windy the last few days. I don't think it's supposed to be like that for tournament rounds. I'm just happy to be back in a good state of mind, and I'm really looking forward to playing this week and seeing all the fans out there.

Q. You did raise your game to an entirely different level at this tournament last year. And how much of what happened at the ANA was an inspiration for you to do that?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, like I said, it was a challenge for me. Definitely not the way I wanted this tournament to end. But it was some of the best golf I've ever played, and that's the way I looked at it. I played some amazing golf. I just tried to continue that throughout the year, keep on working on my game in the off weeks. I got through that and then played well in the events after that. So I knew whatever I was challenged with, I could get through. If I just kept on with the positive attitude and kept working on my game, I knew I could get through it.

Q. How does it feel to almost single-handedly have changed the rules of golf, a rule that nobody liked?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't look at myself that I changed the rule. I'm just happy that the rule changed so nobody else can be put through what I was put through last year.

Q. I know this has always been one of your favorite spots. But given what happened last year, what did it feel like driving back on to the property again, and maybe as you played some of those holes that were so emotional last year?
LEXI THOMPSON: Honestly, it's still my favorite place. Yeah, I didn't have the best memories last year, but it's just an amazing atmosphere this whole event. There is so much history behind this event, and it's an honor just to be playing in it. But to also have my name on the trophy is a huge honor with the legends that are on that trophy as well.

But like I said, just the atmosphere. It's so relaxing and so peaceful here in Palm Springs. I have my parents here and we rent a house, and my mom cooks every night. It's just one of my favorite weeks out of the whole year.

Q. Did you ever have a pit in your stomach at any point since you've been here this week from what happened last year?
LEXI THOMPSON: Not really. I mean, yeah, memories came up, but, honestly, I just had to let them go. I had to go on. It's the past. It's 2018 and I'm ready for a new year, and everybody needs to just let it go.

Q. Lexi, what did you learn from that whole incident last year?
LEXI THOMPSON: What did I learn? Just, I mean, I think overall throughout the whole year I learned how strong I was as a person on and off the course. But just with the challenges that I was faced with, I just learned how strong I was and that I could get through anything that I was faced with if I just go through it with a positive attitude and just move on.

Q. I read that you had a lot of response from emails and letters and things. What is your most memorable thing that you received from the public or fans or even from your peers after all of that?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, friends and family, that's obviously just love from them. They were always there for me. As soon as I got home they were always there supporting me and just there to listen to me. But from other famous people, I guess, like Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods like tweeted me just to show their support, I guess, throughout the whole situation.

So that meant a lot that they were there for me, supporting me. But like I said, I try to stay off social media. I actually just heard about those. But, yeah, I just tried to stay off the social media as much as I could after this happened.

Q. How is your approach different this year? Is there an added edge or motivation or focus because of what happened?
LEXI THOMPSON: There's really not much extra focus. There's still the same preparation that I've done. Same practice rounds and same prep as any other tournament. I know this golf course pretty well. I've been here since an amateur. But like I said, I love being here, but there is definitely a little bit of extra oomph behind me to play this week.

I'm just excited to tee it up and I'm looking forward to just playing this week.

Q. As a follow-up, as a technical question, how has the transition gone from the Bettinardi putter to the Happy putter? What are some of the things you're working on, and are you happy with it?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's going really well. I used the Happy Putter since my first tournament this year, and, yeah, it's going well. I feel very comfortable with it. There are a few different things that I've been working on with my putting, just trying to get a lot more confident and feel comfortable over the ball and just commit to my stroke. Yeah, it's been really working.

I've been doing drills when I'm home, and basically trying to take it a little straighter back, straighter through, and getting confident and getting that nice roll on the ball.

Q. You say last year was some of the best golf you've ever played. Actually over the last four years you've really played this golf course about as well as anybody has ever played for a four-year stretch here. Why does it fit your eye or your game so perfectly?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say it just fits my game because I do get to play it pretty aggressively. I get to hit a lot of drivers. If it's not a driver, it's usually a 3-wood, which I love too. It's just a golf course that sets up well to my eye. It's in, obviously, perfect shape for us. Rough is up a little bit, so that's nice. It's just a golf course that I've always felt very comfortable on.

I think that's where athletes and players just feel the most comfortable and play their best when they like their track and they like the golf course and just feel comfortable on it.

Q. That must have been true, you were low amateur the first time you played here, so it must have been true the first time you set foot here?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's just been one of those tournaments that as soon as I came here I just loved it. Like I said, I love the atmosphere of it. It's very relaxing here. It feels like a major, obviously, with the build up and all the fans in the stands and everything, but it is so relaxing because you have the huge fan support.

I don't know. It's just one of my favorite events. Words can't really describe it.

Q. So aside from us media folks can asking you questions about last year, I'm just curious if fans and other people bring it up, even in positive ways? Do you feel like it comes up all the time when you're on the road or no?
LEXI THOMPSON: It does. Basically every week it does, because I go to a lot of the Pro-Am parties and the receptions that we have. I guess people don't really realize it, but they're doing it in a positive way. They come up to me and they say, I admire the way you handled yourself, and great on that.

So they do bring it up every week, so I'm always kind of reminded, but they do it in a positive way. So I have to take it in a positive way that they're a fan, and they just enjoyed the way that I handled it and that I'm an inspiration to them. And that does mean a lot to me.

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