July 30, 2020
Toledo, Ohio, USA
THE MODERATOR: All right, welcome everyone to the virtual media center at the LPGA Drive On Championship. Once again, if you do have a question you can utilize the group chat feature of the call to put that in, and we will get to it when we open for questions.
For now I'm very happy to be joined by Rolex Rankings No. 9 and major champion Lexi Thompson. I think I asked every player that's come in, but how excited are you to be at an LPGA Tour event?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm very excited. Happy to be playing Inverness, too. It's an amazing golf course and great layout. Just happy to get back in competition. Having that amount of off time is just is not realistic for us athletes, especially on the LPGA Tour. We're used to laying so many events.
It was definitely a lot different. It's nice to have a little bit of a break, but definitely anxious to get out there and play.
THE MODERATOR: I know we've had so many months off. We were just talking about it. What have you been doing over the quarantine, whether you put down the clubs for a little bit, did you take a break at all?
LEXI THOMPSON: I did for a little bit in the beginning. Honestly, golf has been the one thing that you're able to do really. Courses never really closed down in Palm Beach County. I wen tup to Turtle Creek, which is about an hour from me, in the beginning of the quarantine. That was the only place was that open still.
I was able to go out there with my dad. We were first off and just walked, carried our bag, and just enjoyed a nice round just to break up a day and spend some time outside. I did a lot of golfing, a lot of training. I worked out like twice a day for a long time and really enjoyed the family time. I think that was the best part about it.
I got to spend so much time with my family and my nephews and having everybody around really.
THE MODERATOR: You said you're so used to traveling week to week here on the LPGA Tour. Being able to spend time with family, how unique was that for being in a year like we are right now?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, like I said, that was the best part of this unfortunate time, just being able to spend time with my parents and my brothers and my nephews and just be surrounded by them. We all really only get together around the holidays of every year, so to be around each other and have those moments to share with each other in a difficult time, it's great to have that support system and just that family gathering.
THE MODERATOR: As the dates kind of started to change, but once we solidified the next couple weeks, when did it feel real to you that the LPGA was coming back?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was tough because of all the changes and schedules of this is going to the first event and then get postponed or wasn't going to happen. So it was challenging just to be able to focus and get ready game-wise or just training-wise.
It was tough to get used to, but this probably felt real a few weeks ago. I was like, All right. Let's get ready. Let's really focus on the things I need to improve on in my game. Honestly, the whole quarantine I was working hard on my game.
Is was just kind of making sure I was ready for whenever we did restart.
THE MODERATOR: And for you, you just said you've been golfing your entire time here. Did you make any changes to the way you prepared for this week and for the next couple weeks as you were about to make your way to Inverness?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say just I really pinpointed on a few things that I needed to work on in my golf game, what I wanted to improve on to be able to make sure that I was ready for the weeks coming out.
I made sure to play quite a bit in the off time and work on my short game a bunch, and really just tried to get more consistent and tuned in with everything my golf game.
THE MODERATOR: We talked about it off camera, but you did bring a special friend with you. Leo is with you. Is that a normalcy factor for you as we prepare for an unusual event?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. It helps out a lot. I think Leo was a little just surprised at me being around so much. He was probably like, When are you going to leave and leave me at home? It's so nice to have him at tournaments. I bring him to all domestic events. Just to be able to come to him after a good or bad round and he's always happy.
So it's nice to have him around. I definitely look forward to traveling with him everywhere.
THE MODERATOR: I love that. With also just this course in general, have you been out there so far yet? And if so, what have you liked and what are some of the challenges of this course for the week?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, so I played 18 holes today and 9 holes yesterday. Course is in amazing shape. I've heard nothing but great things about it. When we play at Highland Meadows I usually stay around here and get to come out and practice some. It's an amazing golf course. Great shape, like I said.
Don't get to hit too many drivers. It's a lot of 2-irons off tees just because of how firm it's playing. It's firm and fast out there and the greens are rolling very quickly. If they let it get any firmer it's definitely a lot of just placing the ball in the right spot, making sure you play for the bounce-out into the greens.
Even the fairways, I mean, I was hitting some 2-irons that were going 260, 270 just with the amount of roll. The grass is probably the most perfect grass I've ever seen, so I think we're all just very grateful to be able to play this week and not only on this golf course as well.
THE MODERATOR: This is also a unique experience, especially for you being a part some U.S. Solheim Cup teams. This is the host site for 2021.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yep.
THE MODERATOR: Is it a little bit different now that you'll get a sneak peak? I'm assuming your goal is to make next year's team.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's definitely one of my goals to be able to represent my country, it always is. It's different to be able to have a sneak peek into a golf course that we'll be playing that big of an event on. I think it's great. It gives us some insight of how it might be set up or things to look for and maybe how they'll set it up for this year and event differently.
We can look out for things, and we'll know the golf course going into next year. I think it'll definitely be helpful, so I'm really looking forward it. I know they can get a lot people out there supporting us, so hopefully all this we get past and we'll have a lot fans out here at Inverness next year.
THE MODERATOR: Awesome. With that, we'll open up for questions.
Q. Similar to the question you were just asked, what was your reaction when you found out that they were doing this Inverness event just with the prestige of the course and the fact that this is the Solheim Cup host next year?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I was very excited. To be able to play this kind of golf course for our first event back I was very excited. Yeah, Highland Meadows is a great golf course as well. To be able to have this as like a tune up to be on this great of a golf course, it's pretty unbelievable.
And also to have Solheim Cup on it next year, it gives us a little insight and get to know the golf course to hopefully be on that team next year.
I was very excited just to hear that we were playing golf again, and even more excited that we're playing a golf course like Inverness.
Q. And then just in regards to coming back out, I know you guys don't like a ton of free time. Pretty much always at the course. Is it a little weird this week? Are you just going to and from where you're staying and not straying out into the public at all?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, basically it is very weird because we are basically going to the hotel, golf course, and I went to the grocery store to get food to cook in my hotel room. Just making sure I limit as much time around people as possible. I think that's just as athletes and just people in general, we have to be careful with who we surround ourselves with and not get too close to crowded places or people in general.
Definitely have to be careful and minimize the time outside as much as we can.
Q. A question about the golf course. Bronte Law said it's like being thrown into deep end of the pool right way. You guys have a certain amount of competitive rust. How difficult will it be given that you guys haven't played in several months in tournament golf?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, I would say that, but I love challenging golf courses. It is a very tough golf course, and like I said before, it is playing very firm and fast. It's in great shape. It's all about placement. If you play for the right amount of bounce-out, especially in the fairways and into the greens, I think it'll be a lot of par holes.
If you hit it to the middle of the green, just take your 2-putt and get off the hole. I think you can make some moves out there, and then on the few birdie holes that you can access pins, you have to take advantage of those.
But it's a great layout. We'll see how the weather is, how burnt out it gets throughout the week or how firm they want it to play, but I'm looking forward to it. It's a good, challenging golf course.
Q. And do you think it'll favor a certain kind of player? What kind of player will do well here?
LEXI THOMPSON: I just think somebody who hits it straighter. It's very important to hit the fairways out here. Coming into the greens and how firm it is, you want to be in the fairways and get as much height in the shorter amount of shots that you can into those greens, so that way you don't have to play for too much bounce-out.
I would say keeping it straight of the tee is the main focus, because distance isn't really super key out here, because a lot of run-outs are about 270-ish and the ball is rolling a lot. So you don't have to hit it too far in the air.
Q. How penal is the rough?
LEXI THOMPSON: I wouldn't say the rough is too deep right now. You can get some bad lies, don't get me wrong. That's rough in general. It's not super deep. You can definitely hit it to the greens. You just have to play for probably a few extra yards of bounce-out into the greens.
Q. I wanted to first of all follow up. What are you hitting into the par-5s? How often are you hitting driver off the tee?
LEXI THOMPSON: So I played a full 18 today and I hit two drivers, two probably, max four.
Q. Which holes?
LEXI THOMPSON: Which holes? Oh, gosh. Well, the two drivers I hit today were on two holes that I'm not hitting it down the right fairway, so it's picking different lines. Yeah, so a lot of 2-irons for me off the tees.
Like I said, the run-outs are about 270, 280, but my driving iron goes about 210, 215, and then it's rolling a good 40, 50.
Q. So which holes are you taking an alternate route?
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, I can't think of the one on the front nine; on the back, 17. So it's just like kind of a possibility. But I did it for the first time today. It's an option. I think it's like, I don't know, 6 maybe.
Q. That you hit into?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think 6 on the front nine. I hit it down 7.
Q. Okay. And then if you could talk about playing against the men and how that sort of got you ready for this week.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, played in two minor leagues, and one-dayer and a two-dayer. It was something that my dad and I talked about. We were like, Why not? Once we get closer to competition, might be good.
It's obviously not a nerve wracking round, but at the same time, you're keeping score, keeping track, doing your routine, and you're not just hitting a ton the practice shots if you hit a bad one.
It got me in tournament mode. I wanted to play well. Wasn't much nerves, but still like I cared. I wanted to play well. So it was good to get in that mode and get me ready for the season when it started.
Q. And you were coming down the stretch with a chance to win.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I got to play with Sunny Kim. I was obviously playing well, but I didn't know the position that I was in. When I missed the putt on the last hole I went over to my dad and I'm like, What was that for? Like what position was I? Was I winning or losing?
He was like, That would've tied. Ah, whatever. Of course. You know, I didn't really want to think about it because it's not my place to play. At the same time, I wanted to play well. I wanted to keep in the zone of making birdies and playing aggressive.
Q. Was it hard to watch your brothers go out and play for weeks and weeks when your tour hadn't started yet?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was definitely tough to see them be able to go out and play for weeks ahead of us. It is what it is. The LPGA did what they had to. They have to keep us safe and do what's right. We're just happy that we're out now and starting in Toledo playing this great of a golf course.
It is what it is. We're all doing -- we are all making the best of what we can.
Q. How long was the putt that you had to tie?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it was about ten feet. I like went for a par-5 and hit a flop shot to about ten feet and just missed it. He had 2-putted for birdie, so...
Q. Okay. Thank you. Another one. You have an interesting pairing with Nelly and Carlota, and it's a little bit of the Solheim there. Can you tell us about pairings and how much they matter, how much they affect the round?
LEXI THOMPSON: It depends. I honestly don't really care too much on who I play with as long as they're not too slow. I think we're all so focused on our own games that we do our own thing. I would say it makes a difference. If somebody is going low it makes an impact on each other because you can feed off each other and make birdie, birdie. It can work the other way, too.
But at the same time, we're all doing our own thing. We're very focused on our own games and trying to play well, so I wouldn't say it makes a big difference. I have a nice group. I like Carlota and Nelly, so I'm excited to go out there with them.
THE MODERATOR: I have a question on the Solheim Cup too. During the quarantine we've had some assistant captains get announced with Michelle Wie and Angela Stanford, and Angela is here this week.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yep.
THE MODERATOR: Have you reached out to her or Michelle and said congratulations, or does it put a little bit of pressure on that maybe an assistant captain might be watching you?
LEXI THOMPSON: I've talked to Michelle a little bit coming into the week, but I think it's great. They both have such a fire behind them and obviously great players and have been on many Solheim Cups. It's great to have them. They've been through it and they just have that attitude to win and that fire, and they know what we're going through. So it's great to have players as well that are still playing on tour.
It's just great to have them around. I think they'll be great assistant captains. It's all about feeding off each other and feeding off attitudes, especially at Solheim Cups. It's the most adrenaline rush for golf, I think.
So it's great to have them part of the team, and I'm looking forward to hopefully representing my country next year.
Q. So I actually have two more. You made a significant change in your team over this break having been with the same agent for a long time. Can you just talk a little bit about the change that you made with management and what it means for you?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I've been professional for ten years and been with Blue Giraffe Sports. It's been great, but my family and I talked about it a lot and it was just time for a change. They were great to me. Basically like family.
But we just figured in a time of my career, it was just time for a change in my team. I look forward to new opportunities coming up in the future for my career.
Q. And one more. This field is a little bit different in that a lot of international players didn't make the trip, which isn't all that surprising given what's going on right now. Does that change your mindset at all? You're used to playing against the best players from around the world week in and week out. What is it like for you as a player, top player?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, it's different obviously. It's a different field. But at the same time, like I said, we have all been working very hard in our games in the off time as much as we can, and we're coming into every week wanting to win and show our ability and how much we've worked hard.
So we don't really think about who's playing, because all we can do our best out there is show our abilities, and can't focus on anything else, because every week somebody goes low. There is always somebody out there. No matter what ranking they are, it's their week.
So it's all a matter of just going out there and doing your best and seeing what happens.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, Bethan. One last before we wrap up here. If anyone has any questions, they can let me know. Just as the weeks to come, I know I asked in the beginning how exciting is it to be at an LPGA Tour event, but how exciting is it to prepare for multiple events now after being dormant in quarantine for a little bit?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's a lot different. But coming in, you know, I've been practicing a lot. It is a lot different being able to practice and get ready for multiple events, because once we start, we're basically back to back to back of all these events, which is great.
You know, that's more of what we're used to. So we want to play as much as we can until the end of the year and have a big 2021. We're really looking forward to that. I don't think training or practicing changes any differently, but I think once we get into a stretch of a lot of events, we might have to scale back because we might be practicing a lot and getting overtired.
At the same time, we're ready to get out here and play on the LPGA.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you everyone for joining us, and thank you, Lexi, for sitting down with us as well.
LEXI THOMPSON: Thank you.
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