Lexi Thompson, a USGA Story from Beginning to End, Announces Retirement

By Ron Sirak

| May 28, 2024 | Lancaster, Pa.

Lexi Thompson, a USGA Story from Beginning to End, Announces Retirement

The legacy of Lexi Thompson began at a USGA championship in 2007 when the 12-year-old prodigy became the then-youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history. On Tuesday, she bookended a remarkable career at another USGA championship – the 79th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally – when she announced her retirement from full-time competitive golf. She will officially retire at the conclusion of 2024.

The stunning news from the 29-year-old known for her powerful drives and gentle manner with her many fans was another twist in a golf journey that saw many successes and a few “what if” moments.

When she tees it up Thursday at Lancaster Country Club it will be Thompson’s 18th consecutive start in the U.S. Women’s Open, which is a mindboggling achievement for someone who just celebrate her 29th birthday in February.

And while what lays ahead for Lexi remains vague, her many accomplishments are crystal clear. She won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in 2008; made the cut in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open at 14 and went 4-0-1 for the United States in the 2010 Curtis Cup at 15. 

Lexi with trophy

Lexi Thompson holds up the trophy after winning the 2008 U.S. Girls' Junior held at The Hartford Golf Club. (USGA/Robert Walker)

"I've been thinking about it for a few months now," Thompson said during her Tuesday press conference. "It's just a matter of time and place. Like I said before, [the U.S. Women's Open] is where my whole career got started. This is where the whole dream that's started of playing on the LPGA tour and being out here and playing professional golf and playing against the best. I only thought it was right to make it here [at the U.S. Women's Open."

Thompson joined the professional ranks in 2010 and the next year, at 16, earned the first of her 11 LPGA Tour victories. In 2014, she won her only major at the Chevron Championship.  Since then, Lexi has had 16 top-10 finishes in majors with some painful near misses, including T-2 in the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and third, one stroke out of the playoff, in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. Her last victory on the LPGA Tour came in June 2019. 

As a professional, Thompson competed for the United States in the Solheim Cup six times and from 2013 through 2022 was a fixture in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings, earning a spot on the U.S. OIympic Team in both 2016 and 2021.

To say that Thompson’s career has been a wild roller coaster ride would be an understatement. To say that she handled all the ups and downs with quiet class would be dead on target.

At the 2017 Chevron Championship, she incurred a four-stroke penalty for improperly replacing her ball after marking it and then signing an incorrect scorecard. Still, she fought her way into a playoff which she eventually lost to So Yeon Ryu.

Thompson withdrew from the 2018 AIG Open and took a month-long leave from the LPGA Tour. “I have not truly felt like myself for quite some time,” Thompson wrote on Instagram. “I am therefore taking this time to recharge my mental batteries, and to focus on myself away from the game of professional golf.”

That brave act of self-awareness seemed to pay off as she returned to win the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship and then the 2019 ShopRite Classic. But those were her last two LPGA victories and the road grew ragged once again. 

Lexi at Country Club of Charleston

Lexi has come close to winning the U.S. Women's Open, including the the Country Club of Charleston in 2019 and at Olympic Club in the 2021. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Thompson was one stroke back going into the final round of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston. She bogeyed three of the first four holes on Sunday, fought her way back into the mix with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9, then fell back again with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 13, eventually finishing two strokes behind winner Jeong-eun Lee6.

At Olympic Club in the 2021 U.S. Women ‘s Open, Thompson played the front nine of the final round in 34 to open up a five-stroke lead but needed 41 strokes on the closing nine and ended one stroke out of the playoff won by Yuka Saso over Nasa Hataoka.

After that round, fighting back tears, Thompson answered questions from the media and then signed autographs for 30 minutes. 

Lexi’s aggressive, powerful style of play earned her the respect of millions of fans but it was the gracious way she treated those fans that won their love. Whatever is next for Thompson, whether or not it includes golf, she has a legion of followers who will be rooting her on.

The one-time child star walks away from competitive golf just as she entered the game, with her head held high over her 6-foot frame, striding the golf course golf very much on her own terms and in her own style.