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May 28, 2019

Lexi Thompson

Charleston, South Carolina

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome Lexi Thompson into the Media Center here at the 74th U.S. Women's Open. Lexi is playing in her 13th consecutive U.S. Women's Open, qualified at age 12 back in 2007. Now you're 24. That was half a lifetime ago. How is 24-year-old Lexi different than 12-year-old Lexi in terms of your approach to the game?

LEXI THOMPSON: I can reach the fairways now. When I was 12, I couldn't reach the fairways. I was aiming for the mode strips walking up to them. It's a big difference from 12 years old to now. When I was 12, I was star struck by a lot of the players there. I was like there's Lorena Ochoa, Annika. It was an unbelievable moment to be there. I think that's when I realized I want to play on the LPGA Tour. Now I definitely have a lot more experience under my belt. I would definitely say that.

THE MODERATOR: You said you played 18 holes today. Impressive given the heat. What do you think of the course? What do you think are the challenges it presents?

LEXI THOMPSON: I'm lucky enough I'm from Florida, so I'm used to the heat. It's a long day out there, very hot. It's a great golf course. It's my first time seeing it, so I get to hit a lot of drivers out there, which I like. I think there's only a few holes on the back that I don't.

It's a great golf course. I think it's more of a second shot golf course. Like I said, I get to hit a lot of drivers, but it's more the approach shots into the greens. There's a lot of false fronts and kind of more placement on the greens. There are some spots you just don't want to be. Sometimes the Major Championships you have to think about that when you're hitting your second shot into the green on where you want to leave it, where the best putt is, and where the best opportunity is for you.

THE MODERATOR: Now, your last four events, a little bit of a mixed bag -- two top 5 finishes, two missed cuts. How would you assess where you're at right now, and what do you have to focus on this week to make sure you're in contention come Sunday afternoon?

LEXI THOMPSON: It's been a little bit of an up and down season so far. I've had some really good tournaments where my game has fallen in together, and some off weeks. I didn't play so good last week in Virginia, but I got to go home for two days and really work hard on my game with my dad. So my game feels like it's in a good spot.

This week is very long, so it's all about just taking it slow, staying in the moment. There's going to be holes out there that you probably make bogeys on, but at the same time, there's a few holes that you can get after. There's a few par 5s that are reachable that you can birdie.

It's just a long week. You have to commit to your lines, stick to your routine, and don't get ahead of yourself. That's really this week what I've been focusing on, just doing the prep work coming into this week.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Lexi, a lot gets made about No. 11, but what are your thoughts on hole 16's green, the Lion's Mouth green?
LEXI THOMPSON: First off, that's a really good hole in general. I think they're playing it 430, 440 for us. I hit a good driver today, and I had 182 to a middle pin. It's definitely a crazy green, especially with that long of a club in.

It's fortunate that it has a little bit of a backstop on the back that it can roll off of. So you just got to hit a pretty high shot for a long club coming into the green. So but first off, just getting into the fairway and giving yourself an opportunity. The middle bunker in front of the green isn't too bad of a spot, as long as the pin isn't right over the bunker, but it's a great hole.

Q. Lexi, your break from social media caused quite a stir. Have you come back with a different game plan maybe on how much you read of the comments or kind of how you handle it? Because I know you enjoy interacting with fans and giving them an inside glimpse of your life. How are you going to balance all that going forward?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. Honestly, I mean, I love social media in a way that I get to reach out to my fans, give them an inside look of what my training's like, what my practicing is like, or even my life off the golf course that I'm a normal 24-year-old girl. I love giving an insight of my life to fans that look up to me or just are interested. So that way, I love social media.

But the break was definitely needed. I think now I'm just posting and not really looking at the comments and everything. Just trying to look at the positive of everything. I still want to interact with my fans and post pictures, post my Pro-Am pictures and all that, because people love that kind of stuff. So I'm still doing all that. Just I'm not as into reading all the comments or the direct messages or any of that.

Q. If you could point to one thing that really rubbed you the wrong way and bugged you, what would that be from what you read?
LEXI THOMPSON: It wasn't really one thing. It was just a matter of people not looking so much at the positive that was going on or how hard I was working. I think that's what people don't really realize, how much we sacrifice, how much we put into the game as athletes in general. We're not perfect. We're human beings, and we're going to have bad weeks, bad seasons. We're not robots. They can't expect that much from us.

Q. Last thing. With your dad and your time with him, what did you guys work on specifically? What did he notice?
LEXI THOMPSON: Everything. We worked on everything. It was two days at home, and we worked probably five to seven hours each day just practicing. I mean, I think I might have played a little bit more than 18 holes total in the two days. So it was a lot of practicing, a lot of work around the greens, and a lot of ball striking work and putting as well.

It wasn't just one thing. It was honestly everything, just trying to get more confident over everything, every aspect of my game.

Q. Lexi, I'm sure you've looked at the forecast like all of us. You talk about this being a second shot golf course. Doesn't look like it's going to let up, that being the heat. How difficult can this course get if it continues to get firmer and faster?
LEXI THOMPSON: It definitely can play a lot harder, especially if there's no rain. If they're not going to water it, those greens can get firm out there.

I know that's what I've heard when this golf course plays the hardest is when it's firm and fast. That's usually how U.S. Women's Opens are. I know yesterday it got pretty windy. It got up to 15 miles per hour. If it gets windy and gets firm, it can play tough. It will still be a second shot golf course, but at the same time, you have to get it in the fairways because you don't want to be hitting out of bunkers or the little bit of rough that's out there.

It's all placement. You can use run-ups. Even if you stay short of the false fronts, usually that's the better putt to even have.

Q. We talk about your length. You call this obviously a second shot golf course. When you think about your ability to compress the golf ball going into these greens that you say you really want to place, how much of an advantage do you think that is?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say it's an advantage to be a little longer on this golf course. There are a few holes playing long on the back nine. 18 and 16 are the longer holes, and No. 1 is pretty long as well. So it definitely helps to have the shorter clubs into these greens, especially if they do get firmer. It will help to get the height on the ball or get the spin, a little bit of spin that you can on the green.

So it will help, but you just want to be hitting from the fairway.

Q. Lastly, seems like every Major Championship we go to, we talk about the word patience. But when you get to a venue like this and the weather's an issue, how much important does patience and stamina become?
LEXI THOMPSON: Patience is very important. I mean, really just in golf in general, it's important, especially in Major Championship weeks because they are very long weeks. I mean, even the practice rounds are really long.

But especially in this heat, you have to stay hydrated. You just have to stay in the moment and not get too exhausted out there because it's feeling like 105 out there at least. I mean, I'm from Florida, and it was still pretty tiring to play 18 holes.

You have to stay patient and stay in the moment. There will be holes you'll struggle on. At the same time, there are holes you can get. You just can't get ahead of yourself out there.

Q. Lexi, we talked about you playing in this event when you were 12 years old. Alexa Pano is playing in this, 14 years old this week. Have you talked to her at all? What advice do you give someone that young, playing in a Major the first time?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't talked to her this week. I haven't really even seen her. I got to play with three amateurs yesterday. It was amazing to play with them and get to see their games and the talent that they have. It was a good time out there.

But I would say my advice, I mean, you want to embrace the moment and realize that you've worked very hard to get to this level and just embrace the fans and the opportunity that you have to be able to play on the highest stage of golf.

But at the same time, you can learn. You can learn where your game needs to be, where you need to improve on and anything like that. I think that's what I think I learned in my first years of Women's Opens and that's what helped me out the most.

Q. Lexi, the USGA just announced they're raising the purse in this event and the Men's Open by the same amount and for the first time the women's winner will win a million dollars. I just wanted your reaction to that news.
LEXI THOMPSON: Just heard that in the press conference before I sat down. I think it's amazing news. And I think that's just -- it strikes us as the women's game is growing so much. I think it is very well-deserved, but I think overall golf is just growing as a sport. With it being in the Olympics and for us getting more sponsors, getting more tournaments each and every year, it's great to see.

I can definitely say I think the players are very excited about the news, and hopefully we can just keep on improving.

Q. Lexi, kind of going back to living half your summers at this event, do you remember what your biggest concern, anxiety, just curiosity was about this event when you went to Pine Needles 12 years ago?
LEXI THOMPSON: Going to Pine Needles, my first one, there was a lot of anxiety. I was just so excited. I was practicing my signature on the drive up, and I was just so excited just to be there.

The opportunity just to play on that level, I always say, when I made it at 12, I knew that's where I wanted to be. I was like okay, I know I probably can't handle this right now with my length and everything, but I can learn what I need to do, what I need to improve on.

Just the experience helped me out so much. To have a few players come up to me and reach out to me meant a lot to me and helped me out a lot in the future.

Q. Was there a particular moment or encounter that kind of solidified that I want to be here for the rest of my athletic days?
LEXI THOMPSON: Probably not a particular moment. I would just say being there in general. I don't remember what I shot. I think I missed the cut by quite a few, but I was like okay, well, I'm going to stay here for the next few days and sign every autograph, take every picture.

I was kind of more embracing the opportunity to play there and just the opportunity. I was just like, okay, I have a lot more to do with my game, but I know if I put in the work, put in the time, I can do it.

Q. Hi, Lexi. You've had some rounds that have been huge emotional roller coasters. As a fellow player, what did you think of Jutanugarn and the way she survived the final round last year? That was one of the all-time up and down days in golf history.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I've played with Ariya a lot, a lot of rounds. I don't exactly remember what happened the last round at the U.S. Women's Open. I know it was crazy up and down, but we have so many rounds like that. Golf is such a crazy game. We have multiple rounds where we're like, okay, who is that person on that front nine? Like she wasn't very good. And then the next nine, you know, it just turned it around like that.

And that's just golf. It's such an up and down game. Some days you can have it, some shots you can. You're going to hit bad shots. And, you know, sometimes when you're in the heat of the moment, sometimes things get going a little bit faster, and if you struggle, they get even faster.

So unfortunately, it's sometimes where you need to learn more from those kind of mistakes. I know I've learned so much from those mistakes, unfortunately. But, you know, you do. You have to take one shot at a time, relax, and take everything slowly, especially if you're struggling.

Ariya is an amazing player, a strong athlete. She can pull off any shot. She's never out of it. She's always a contender any time she tees it up.

Q. Lexi, Lisa mentioned your length off the tee and how that helps you with this being a second shot golf course. Do you think you're a favorite this week because of that?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't know if I'm a favorite. I mean, maybe. I like to think so. I think we all, coming into the week, we just want to focus on one shot at a time, hitting the fairways, hitting the greens. The U.S. Women's Open golf courses are always challenging. Especially if it plays dry, it will play firm and fast, which I want. I want it to play difficult. That's how usually Major Championships should be. So that's what I expect.

But I don't know about being a favorite. I mean, I like to sign autographs and take pictures for the fans, so hopefully we get a ton of people out here supporting everybody in general.

THE MODERATOR: Lexi Thompson, 8:06 a.m. off the 10th tee on Thursday. Best of luck.


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