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April 2, 2019

Lexi Thompson

Rancho Mirage, California

THE MODERATOR: Welcome into the media center here at the ANA Inspiration. Happy to be here with world No. 9, Lexi Thompson, our 2014 champion. Lexi, playing in your tenth ANA. Welcome back to the desert. You're coming off a nice final round, 69, last week at the Kia Classic. Coming in nice and fresh. How do you feel as you drive up the road here and start your week at Rancho Mirage?

LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, I feel great. This is one of my favorite tournaments. Every year I just enjoy the drive over from San Diego to Palm Springs. It's just absolutely beautiful here. Got to play the course yesterday and it's probably in the best shape I've ever seen it.

Just to be back it brings back so many great memories. I just love this golf course. I get to hit my driver everywhere. It's just so much fun to be here this week.

THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the course. Said you played nine holes yesterday, nine holes this morning. I've heard there are some changes out there on the golf course, particularly some of the fairways are a little narrower. How does it look out there?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, definitely some of the fairways are brought in quite a bit, and a few of the tees they moved back. I think 3 and 4 are back, and 15, I believe, are back. So it's playing a little bit longer. The fairways are softer, but the greens are still firm.

So it's a good combination. The rough is up, so it's definitely a major championship week. It's in great shape. It's how it should be.

THE MODERATOR: You always play so well here in your nine previous times here. You've four top 10s, eight top 25s, never missed a cut. What is about the Dinah Shore course that seems to suit you so well?

LEXI THOMPSON: I've played here since I was 14, I believe, so a lot of great memories. But I think it's just I get to play aggressive out here. I get to take my driver and just the setup of the golf course, you know, aim up the right side and hit my draw out there with my driver.

I think it suits a ball striker, which major championships usually should. It's just a great layout and I love coming here. It's all about the attitude you bring to the golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. Do you think the changes, the tees that got moved back maybe narrowing the fairways, is that a good thing for your game or is it something that might make you think about putting the driver away on a couple holes?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think they're great changes. It makes my keep driver more in my hand for sure. A few of the fairways, like I said, were brought in, but I think it just makes it more challenging.

At the same time, you want get it as far down there as you can. Even if you do hit it in the rough, you want to have a shorter club in because the rough is thick on some of those holes. You want as short a shot in as you can.

Q. We've had a tremendous amount of rain by our standards around here.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I can tell.

Q. So it's not so much that the rough is tall, but really thick, right?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, it's tall in a few holes, but just the thickness of it definitely slows the club down going through it.

It's how rough usually is at majors, so it's definitely setting up as it should.

Q. You have a familiar face back on your bag as caddie. Tell us about the decision to bring Benji back? Wasn't he on the bag when you won here?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, he was on my bag when I won here in 2014. Yeah, it was a decision that we kind of made after Asia. It's just great to have him back on the bag. He has an upbeat personality, very positive. He has an aggressive personality out on the golf course.

I think he brings out the best in my game. If I'm ever questioning a shot he's like, You got this. Show me what you got. It's just kind of a good personality for me to have out there on the golf course. It's a good change.

Q. Last year's winner was kind of a surprise. How surprising was Pernilla Lindberg's victory to you and how impressive was what she did over the five days?
LEXI THOMPSON: That was a long playoff. That's all I have to say. No, I wouldn't say it's a surprise. She's a great player. We all know that. I think it's all a matter of if you have the patience for a major championship week. She has the talent and obviously she rolls her putts so well. I think that showed that week. She made so many great putts, especially on those playoff holes.

It was great to watch. Unfortunately went to Monday. Nobody wants to finish on a Monday at a major championship with fewer crowds, but I think it was great for her. She's a great person and amazing talent. She works hard, so it was well deserved.

Q. You mentioned patience. Is that really the key to winning in this tournament and in majors, just to remain calm throughout?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it helps in any tournament, but major championship weeks for sure. Usually major weeks the golf courses are set up hard; you're going to make bogeys.

But you just have to be patient because you know you can take advantage of a few holes that are birdie holes out there. Just have to be patient with yourself. There are going to be a few holes you might bogey, but you can get it back on other holes.

You can't let yourself get ahead of yourself. Stay in the moment, do your routine, and be confident over the shots.

Q. Go back to 2014, that jump into Poppy's Pond. You're a young player. When you think of your career right now, how important was that moment, to be able to get such a big victory at that age?
LEXI THOMPSON: It was very important. It's one of my major highlights for sure jumping into Poppy's Pond with my whole family and my caddie Benji. It was a truly special moment. I think getting the first major win under your belt besides the first tournament in general, it's a huge leap. I think it just shows how much your hard work has paid off. Winning at a major realizing how much patience you put in, hard work, just that showing in that big of a week under certain circumstances and pressures.

So it was a big deal for me, and definitely gave me a lot of confidence. Just gave me more momentum to just work harder and hopefully have it happen again.

Q. What about the tradition of it, especially being so young? I know as a little girl you started early. Was that something you dreamed of as a little girl, growing up playing this game, jumping into Poppy's Pond?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, I've played in this tournament since he was 14, and it's always been a dream of mine to jump into Poppy's Pond. I think it is for a lot of women golfers, because there is so much history behind this tournament and tradition. Jumping into Poppy's Pond, wearing the robe. It was a dream come true for me for sure.

This tournament just has so much history behind it and it's just an honor to be able to play here at Mission Hills.

Q. You mentioned Benji and your family jumping in. After you guys shared that moment together, what did you talk about?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think we were all just so excited. I think we all stayed in that pond for like five, ten minutes just hugging each other and just like screaming and everything. It's a special moment. You can't really put it into words. Didn't really sink in until a few days after what I've done.

Q. You talked about the tradition of this tournament, and one the great traditions is the champion's dinner. You went last night. What was that celebration like, spending so much time with some of the greats in this game?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it is an honor just to be around the greats of the game, role models of mine. Just to be surrounded by greatness really, and people that made this game, it's a true honor. Just to be able to spend that two hours with them, have a sit-down dinner and be able to mingle with them before. Just to see the people that made this game is an inspiration. It was an honor to be there and be around these people.

THE MODERATOR: That actually ties into our new campaign, the DriveOn campaign. I know without those ladies we wouldn't have a tour. You spend so much of your time focusing on the next generation and the young girls out there. What does it mean to you to truly DriveOn through this game?

LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's important to just DriveOn. I think as athletes, we just want to leave the game in a better place than it was when we came in. We want to be role models for little kids - or anybody for that matter - and just be inspirational to people that look up to us.

We work very hard, and it's always been our dream to do what we are doing. You know, it's an amazing opportunity and we don't take it for granted. At the same time, we want to be role models for these kids and we want them to pick up a club at a young age.

That's what's great about all the golf programs that we have now, especially the LPGA with the USGA Girls' Golf program and so many others. It's great to see. We want to leave the game in a better place. That's all we want to do.

THE MODERATOR: Any further questions for Lexi? Thank you so very much. Appreciate your time and see you out there on Thursday.

LEXI THOMPSON: All right. Thank you.

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