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January 16, 2019

Lexi Thompson

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

CHRISTINA LANCE: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. We're here with Lexi Thompson. You've played in this Invitational the last few years, but it's got to be nice to be back here in a familiar place to start out the year, but this time you're playing for some real money. Tell us how you feel this week.

LEXI THOMPSON: It's nice to be back. I played in this event two years ago, and it was so much fun. I was very happy to see the LPGA took it over. I think it's a great event, and it's a cool idea for a tournament with all the celebrities and pros that just won the last two years. I think it's great for us.

The course is in really good shape. I got to play it the last two days. I knew the course two years ago, but they have it set up a little differently, a little longer for us this year. It's playing pretty long. I'm looking forward to the week. Hopefully, we get some good weather. It will be a fun one, that's for sure.

CHRISTINA LANCE: So having played this before, you're one of the few players here who has experience, who knows what it's like to play alongside the celebrities and the fans that come out. What are your biggest take aways from your past experience here that maybe you could share? It's different when you're not playing with just your fellow players.

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's a lot different. Two years ago, I would say I didn't take it very seriously because we weren't playing for our own purse and our own money. It was a lot different. So this year, you have to focus a little bit more. At the same time, it's a great experience, a huge honor to play with the celebrities you get paired with, and to get to know them and be surrounded by such great athletes and what they've accomplished in their life and just get to know them.

We want to play well, but you have to enjoy it as well. You don't get this opportunity very often to be surrounded by some of the best athletes or celebrities in the world.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Caught up with you earlier. You said you had a quick off-season. You were doing a lot of other things. How was your off-season, and how do you feel coming in refreshed going into 2019?

LEXI THOMPSON: Definitely wasn't much of an off-season, only a few weeks, but it was still nice. My brother got married in December, so there was a lot going on in December and then with Christmas and everything and a few charity events here in the beginning of January.

So there was a lot going on, but at the same time, as long as I'm home, it's well worth it. I got to spend a lot of time with my family and friends and spend time with my new puppy and just be at home. That's always nice.

I feel refreshed coming into the new year, and after this event, I still have a few more weeks off.

Q. Lexi, just what's it been like to -- you won your last event. So basically, you've had two months to just kind of enjoy that. What's that been like for you?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's been good. I was playing good coming up in the end of the season, so I knew it was a matter of time. I was working really hard on my game, and just to see it pay off at that tournament and in front of all my family, it was a huge honor. It was a great week. Just to let it all soak in in the month of December being around my family and celebrating it and realizing my hard work paid off. I think that was the best feeling of it.

But it's still sinking in. I still like replay videos of it just to refresh it in my mind and get into this year.

Q. I was going to ask you, if it had been a poor finish, you might end the year thinking, oh, what's wrong? What do I have to work on? It must make it just your ability to focus on what's right with your game through the off-season, right?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I think it was, obviously, a great way to end the season, but like I said, I was working really hard leading up to that event or in between events towards the end of the year. I knew it was only a matter of time before it all just clicked and I felt super comfortable with the swing changes I was making, and it paid off at that event.

I went into it, I wanted to play aggressive, just take driver on that whole golf course, and it paid off. I just wanted to continue to work on that in the off-season and get it 100 percent committed to it.

Q. One more thing. What's your caddie situation been right now?
LEXI THOMPSON: My brother Curtis will be caddieing for me this week. He has a qualifier today, so he'll be driving from Weston, Florida, down tonight, and he'll be caddieing for me this week. It all depends. If he's playing, I won't be using him. I'll just use my dad. But if he isn't, he'll probably make it out to caddie for me.

Q. So you're not searching for anyone?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not searching for anybody right now.

Q. Can you talk about why you're staying with family?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think I realized that's who cares about me the most right now. My dad's been my coach my whole life. If I have him on the bag, I know he can help me out tremendously. Same thing with Curtis. He knows my golf swing very well too. He can always keep me laughing out there. So with either of them, I know I'm going to do well and just feel comfortable out on the golf course and a lot less pressure.

Q. How many days did you not touch a golf club over the off-season?
LEXI THOMPSON: It seemed like a week. Like after Shark Shootout, it might have been a week and a half. It wasn't much.

Q. Was that -- are you bummed about that? Do you feel --
LEXI THOMPSON: No, not really. Honestly, I took that first week off after shootout, and I still wanted to play. I wanted to continue to see what I was working on with CME and the previous tournaments to that, if it was continuing to work, and I still wanted to engrave it in my golf swing and be confident coming into this year.

So I would find myself out on the golf course at 7:30 in the morning playing with my brothers because December is a good time for us because we're all home. We don't get the time to play golf with each other very much. We were always out there 7:30 in the morning still teeing it up.

Q. Does it feel like a fresh start to you? I know last year you had a lot of growth. You were very honest about what you were going through. Do you feel like you've sort of turned the page in 2019?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say so. Last year was a tough year emotionally, but I learned a lot, and I took the time for myself that I needed. And just to be refreshed coming into the year. I don't play as much as a lot of the other girls, and I think that's kind of the reason I just pick and choose what tournaments I like, what golf courses I enjoy playing. I'm going to continue to do that and make sure I enjoy the time off that I have at home and make sure I'm refreshed for the tournaments that I really want to play well.

Q. Can I just ask what is your schedule leading up to ANA?
LEXI THOMPSON: As of now, I'm not playing in Australia. Thailand, Singapore, I'm playing. I don't even know what else is after that. I'm not sure about Hawaii. I'm playing all the West Coast, like I'm pretty sure. Not 100 percent on Arizona. Yeah, I'm playing Kia for sure. And Founders Cup, I'm not too sure about, but possibly.

Q. This is such an innovative format because you're going to be playing with Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, but you're not playing -- they're not on your team. You're playing two separate tournaments. Do you think they're going to ask you for advice? Are they going to say, Lexi, what do you think?
LEXI THOMPSON: They might. They can. I think it would be great. I think it's a great format for a tournament. I think it's great that the celebrities get involved, and we get to be, like I said earlier, surrounded by such great athletes and celebrities in general. So I think it will be fun if they ask. I'm not too technical, but I'll try to help as much as I can. Just to be around them and have a good time out there, I think that's what it's about.

CHRISTINA LANCE: John Smoltz qualified for the U.S. Senior Open last year, so he's no slouch.

LEXI THOMPSON: He probably won't be asking for tips. Maybe I will.

Q. Lexi, do you know who John Smoltz is? Do you know who those guys are?
LEXI THOMPSON: I Googled them, just to make sure. But, yes, I do now.

Q. Is this -- some players I know really enjoy this kind of format. Some players can't stand it, and some are in the middle. Where do you fall on that?
LEXI THOMPSON: I mean, I enjoy it. I think it will be a little difficult to take it super seriously, but I've enjoyed it so far, just like the Pro-Am party last night, being surrounded by all these amazing people and what they've accomplished in life. I'm looking forward to playing golf with them.

Do they re-pair every day? Yeah, so I think it's great. You have different people every day. I'll enjoy it. I think it's a great format for a tournament, especially the first one of the year.

Q. Just one more on the celebrity front there. I know you've played in this before. Do you have any funny or interesting stories on what you've seen a celebrity amateur do during play?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't really remember. No, I think I've gotten pretty good players when I did play it. So there wasn't any like really bad golf shots that ricocheted off something or hit somebody. I can't think of any funny stories, but I remember it was a great time. On and off the golf course, there was like a party every night when I came here two years ago. There was concerts and everything. So it's just overall a fun week.

Q. Lexi, a lot of new rules this year. I wanted to get your take on three of them. Caddie no longer lining up behind the shot, putting with the flagstick in, and dropping from the knee, if you could give me your take on all three.
LEXI THOMPSON: Caddie line-up, you know, I don't really have my caddie line me up. Only when I'm really struggling, I'll ask. We're all professional athletes. I don't think we really need that. Take your time, pick out your line. I think we can line ourselves up.

And what was the second one? Putting with the flagstick in. I don't really know what that can help. I think it's making the hole smaller. I'll never do it, I don't think, unless the putt's really fast and I need the putt to stop. Other than that, I wouldn't see me using that.

And dropping it from my knee, I don't exactly know how that's possible, but I did practice it some. Way back you went from dropping a ball behind your back to now dropping it from your knee, so it's way different. We'll see. There's so many rules changes, I've got to read them all. I've got to just ask before I do anything.

Q. Has Curtis studied the rules then?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think we've all talked about it like a lot on the golf course. We practiced ball dropping and all that, hit a few putts with the flags in. That doesn't really work out too well. Yeah, we've studied them a little bit.

Q. Have you made any equipment changes over the off-season, or does your bag look like it did at CME?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's the same, but I'm using the new irons, the new Cobra F9 irons, F9 Speedback driver and the new irons. So everything else the same, same wedges and same putter.

CHRISTINA LANCE: I'll ask one last question. So you're playing with Smoltz and Glavine tomorrow. My brother-in-law, who's a Braves fan, is very jealous. Any other celebrities you'd like to play with or watch on the range, just to see how they play?

LEXI THOMPSON: Really anybody. I know there's -- I played with Colt Ford a few years ago, and he's awesome. Obviously, a very good player as well. But really anybody. Marcus Allen, I got to talk to him a little bit last night. I've played with Joe Theismann and got to speak with him as well. Really anybody. I would love to see their games and just be surrounded with them, I think. It's just more of being around people of that caliber and how great they were in their sport.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Feeding off their talent to help spur on your own?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, exactly, and ask them anything that I could think of and just learn from them and just -- like I said, just be surrounded by the presence of greatness, I guess.

CHRISTINA LANCE: They're in the presence of greatness as well. Thanks so much. Enjoy your day.

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