Lexi Thompson saves the best for last

By Emily Tillo, USA GOLF Communications | Nov. 18, 2018, 4:54 p.m. (ET)

 

 

2016 Olympian Lexi Thompson entered the LPGA’s season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship, with one last chance to earn her first victory of the 2018 season.

Despite what was at stake in Naples, Florida this week-- a chance to reclaim the CME Group Tour Championship title after a devastating loss last year -- the 23-year-old was relaxed, confident and at ease.

“This week, no matter how I play, it's just always so nice because I always have a bunch of family and friends here,” said Thompson, who hails from Coral Springs, Florida.  “We always go all out to eat together. It's a relaxing week.”

This mentality sure served Thompson well, because after that first-round, bogey-free 65, she kept her foot on the gas pedal and never let go. She carded another bogey-free round on Friday to take a three-stroke lead heading into the weekend and then carded a 68 in round three to maintain a three-stroke lead heading into the final round.

“I've just been working on my game really hard, so it's nice to see it pay off,” said Thompson on the eve of the final round. “One more day tomorrow, and I'm just going to take the same attitude that I did the last three days and go out there and just have some fun with my brother on the bag.”

She did just that -- firing a final-round 70 to win by four strokes over fellow American Nelly Korda.

The victory was the 10th of Thompson’s still-young professional career, and she now extends her winning streak to six consecutive years (2013-2018), the longest active streak on the LPGA Tour.

She only recorded three bogeys the entire week and missed only seven of 56 fairways.

Lexi’s brother, Curtis, who plays on the Web.com Tour, caddied for his sister this week and proved to be another key piece of the winning puzzle.

“He kinda saved me out there. I had so much fun. He was just keeping me laughing and even when I struggled on a few holes today he was like, ‘It’s O.K. You got this. You’ll hit a great shot here. C’mon Lexi, you’re the best.’ To have him on the bag, it’s the best.”

 

But it wasn’t just Curtis who helped keep Thompson’s nerves in check. Her new puppy, Leo, also cheered her on the entire week.

 

 

For Thompson, winning with family, friends, fans and puppy by her side was the perfect ending to the 2018 season.

“The last two years it’s been a very up and down two years—a lot of ups—but just some stuff I’ve been going through,” Thompson said in her post-win press conference. “But to have this special win in front of all of my family and friends out there and to have my brother on the bag, it was a huge honor for me to win this event but just very special at that.”

 

USA GOLF Olympians dominate around the world as fall season comes to a close:

Thompson’s win on Sunday is just one of several dominant performances from members of the 2016 USA GOLF team in recent weeks:

  • 2016 bronze medalist Matt Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico last week to notch his eighth career PGA TOUR victory and his first since 2014. In the process, the 40-year-old set the 36-, 54- and 72-hole tournament records and became the first player in his 40s to win on the PGA TOUR since Tiger Woods at the 2018 TOUR Championship in September.
  • Fellow Olympian and reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed carded a T2 finish this weekend at the European Tour’s season finale, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, to finish second in the Race to Dubai standings.

 

Current 2020 Olympic rankings (men and women):  https://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/tokyo-2020/tokyo-2020-qualification-system/tokyo-2020-olympic-golf-rankings/