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July 4, 2012

Lexi Thompson


THE MODERATOR:  In 2007, Lexi Thompson was just 12 years old when she first qualified for the United States Women's Open Championship.  And so that makes her an old veteran now, I guess, just five years later.  But we welcome her back.  She tied for 10th at Oakmont at the age of 15 in 2010.  So she is a contender, certainly.  Doing very well on the LPGA Tour.  She is a winner now at a very young age.  Became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA.
Lexi, what do you have in your arsenal now that will help you win a Women's Open championship?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I've just grown mentally.  I would say from my first Open, I've grown with length to just getting older.  But mentally has been a big learning experience for me.  So I think that's really important on the Open golf course.
THE MODERATOR:  What does winning a U.S. Women's Open mean to a player of today's generation?
LEXI THOMPSON:  It's the biggest win you can get is a Major.  Everybody just really prepares for this event, few days preparing for it.  You just have to take your time and be patient during the rounds and everything.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Lexi, it's a long golf course.  The fairways are fairly generous in the landing areas.  Does that give you an advantage over some of the other girls in the field?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I hit a lot of drivers on this golf course, which I like.  The par‑3s are actually pretty long, too, I think.  The shortest iron I had in was about a 6‑iron on par‑3.  It's a really long golf course, but it's a challenge.  That's what an Open is made to do.

Q.  What do you remember of that 2007 Open and have you learned over the years from your Open experiences?
LEXI THOMPSON:  The one thing I remember from that one Open is my first tee shot.  I teed off at 10.  I was the most nervous I've ever been over a shot.  My legs were shaking and everything.  I ended up hitting a good tee shot.
It was really exciting to be there.  I learned a lot.  I learned by watching other players' games what I needed to improve on.

Q.  We talked with a lot of golfers this week about the youth of the field.  I think there's one player this year who is 13 years old.  I wanted to ask in your experience what's it like being a young player playing in such a competitive field like this?  What's the pressure like for young kids?  And is that good?  Is it good to have such a young field playing?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah.  There's a lot of young girls playing.  I think I played with two 14‑year‑olds my first practice run.  It's pretty cool to see, just their games and how they got there.  They just have to play their own game and not focus on anybody else.  That's what everybody does in the Open.  You just have to play the golf course.

Q.  Going back to 2007, you were talking about going to PetSmart every day and what you were watching, you were watching the Disney Channel.  I assume you're not doing that this week?
LEXI THOMPSON:  No.  I still like PetSmart.  I might stop by.  I'm still a little kid inside.  You still have to have fun off the golf course and on it.  So just relax and not put any pressure on yourself.

Q.  Just on that same topic, why are so many players so good so young now?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I guess just starting at a younger age and just being really dedicated.  That's what it's all about.  Just practicing.  You have to have a love for the game and wanting to improve.

Q.  How do you balance that?  How do you balance all of that dedication, all of that work with just being a young person?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I mean, you have to love the game.  Off the golf course you have to hang out with your friends, get your mind off your game or you're just going to‑‑ you're going to go crazy.  But just relax and have fun with your friends.  It's good to have a friend to play golf with or practice just to keep it nice and calm.
THE MODERATOR:  Who are some of your friends out here on the tour?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Out here?  Probably like Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lang has been really nice.  A lot of them have been really welcoming.  Always saying good luck and chatting up conversations.  It's really good to see.
THE MODERATOR:  That's who you play practice rounds with mostly?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Not really.  I play whoever I get signed up with.  It doesn't really matter to me.  Just going out there and practicing on the golf course.
THE MODERATOR:  Pretty hard to find friends of your own age, though.  They just aren't there, are they?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Well, I have Jessica Korda.  She's close to my age.  I played a lot of junior and amateur golf.  We're pretty close.  It is hard since I'm the youngest.  They don't treat me any differently.

Q.  Who were the 14‑year‑olds you were playing with earlier in practice?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I know one of them was Megan Khang.  I'm not sure of the other's last name.

Q.  Did it feel a little strange to have‑‑ I'm sure they were picking your brain a little bit how to play the U.S. Women's Open.  Did it feel a little strange considering you were on that side of the fence just a few years ago?
LEXI THOMPSON:  They actually didn't ask me really anything during the round.  They just pretty much played their own practice round too.  It is cool to see just to think that that was just a few years ago for me.  But they were great players.  So I wish them all the best this week.

Q.  Going back to 2007, you talked about being able to pick up little things from other players as you watched them.  Who did you watch the most when you were at Pine Needles and trying to pick up little things from?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Whoever I was paired up with.  I'm not sure who my pairings were.  I think maybe Amy Yang I played with the first year.  I learned a lot from playing with them, just seeing their strengths and their short game, and obviously their distance was an advantage compared to me.  I think I was playing down both strips that year.  It's really exciting to be there and see all the players I was watching on TV.

Q.  Lexi, two questions.  First, obviously, the story angle is you are the young player.  We were all asking that.  When do you think that story ends?  When are you seen as a golfer, not just the teenager that comes in that was the youngest winner?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I'm not really sure.  I don't really know.  I'm just playing the game I love and I'm just doing what I love.  And that's all I can do, just try my best every tournament.  I don't know how people will see me, but I guess always as a teenager that won.  I'm not too sure.

Q.  One way they see you is as a very popular player.  You seem to connect with the fans.  Is that important to you?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Connecting with the fans, it's really important to me.  They take time out of their lives to come watch me play.  That's why I usually sign every autograph, take pictures.  Just giving back is very important to me.

Q.  What is the dynamic like within your family in terms of the competition you have within your family and how much do you help each other with that competition and how much do you help each other with your games?
LEXI THOMPSON:  It's a lot of competition between my brothers and I.  Matches when we're all home, playing straight up.  We learn a lot playing each other.  We play contests and teach each other.  Throughout my career they've helped me.

Q.  Where do you rank right now in the Thompson rankings?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I don't know if one has passed the other.  It's always like on‑and‑off winning.  So it's really intense every match we play.

Q.  Can you give us a state of your game right now?  You've made 10 of 11 cuts but only two top 10s.  You're driving the ball well.  Your putting numbers are a little suspect.  Can you talk about your game right now coming into this week?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, last week didn't go so well for me, but this week I'm feeling really confident about my game.  These last few practice rounds went really well.  I just have to go out confidently and stay patient out here.  Pars are good.  So just have to trust your golf shots.
THE MODERATOR:  Monday I believe they're going to announce the Espy awards.  You've been nominated for two of them.  Which would mean the most to you?  Winning the Women's Open or winning an Espy award?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Well, both would be nice.  I'm just really excited to go to the ESPYs.  It was an honor once I got the invite.  I'm really just focusing on U.S. Women's Open this week.  I'm going to try to do my best and go out and free swing.

Q.  How did you develop your discipline and your work ethic at such a young age?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Well, growing up with two brothers helped out a lot.  They got me started in the game.  But I played some other sports too, so I've always been really dedicated.  But once I made it down to one sport with golf obviously, just being really dedicated and always being around my brothers competing has made me a better player.

Q.  How has the transition been to not having your dad on the bag and him going over to Nicholas's bag?
LEXI THOMPSON:  It's been different.  Definitely at first it was a different change.  But me and Greg have been working out really good, just getting along, personalities.  To me it's all about just getting along on the golf course and having a similar personality just to keep you relaxed.
He knows every golf course really well.  I think he's been out here for 20‑something years.  It's going really well.  My dad has been helping out my brother a lot.

Q.  How long did it take for Greg to kind of get used to what you like and how you approach the game?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I would say probably a few weeks.  The first few weeks was pretty much just learning my game, how far my shots were going and everything.  But we got together pretty quick and it ended up working really well.  So hopefully it will stay that way.
THE MODERATOR:  All right, Lexi.  Thank you so much.  Go get some rest and good luck this week.
LEXI THOMPSON:  Thank you very much.

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