An interview with 2014 LPGA KNC Winner – LEXI THOMPSON
An interview with: 2014 LPGA KNC Winner - LEXI THOMPSONGood afternoon once again, Coachella Valley. It's a great pleasure to be here not only at the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, but also with the defending champion who has a smile on her face and his had quite some time, at least for the last month. I know that because of media day. Great pleasure to welcome Lexi Thompson here to the stage. Let's talk about what it means just to be sitting here. Kind of the difference in one year's time? LEXI THOMPSON: I just remember the last time I was sitting here it was after I won last year, and you definitely couldn't wipe a smile off my face. I was smiling from ear to ear. But just this area brings back so many great memories from last year jumping into Poppie's Pond, having both my parents there jumping with me, it's been an incredible year since then. It's been very busy with all the media attention, but it's been amazing. The tournament changed my life. Q. Let's talk about that a little bit. You leap into the pond. You slip on the robe. You drive away. Suddenly there are different media obligations, there are new opportunities, there are heightened expectations and so many things that come with it. Be honest and tell us what type of an adjustment you had to make to deal with those types of things? LEXI THOMPSON: I think it was more on just balancing out my schedule with a lot more of the media commitments that I had to do at tournaments or on my off weeks. It was just more of a balance and making time for myself in between that so I didn't get too tired out. It's been incredible. I had a lot of different ways to reach out to my fans, which is always nice. But I didn't change as a person. It obviously changed my confidence going into the tournament sips I knew I had won a major championship, that's always a big confidence booster. But it's always different being announced on the First Tee now as a major champion. It's a huge honor. Q. At the time that you were in contention last year and leading up, you had won on the LPGA, so you were part of the Tour. Do you feel a different part of the Tour now as a major champion? Do you feel more ownership, perhaps in the Tour? More responsibility? Those types of things? LEXI THOMPSON: I wouldn't say I feel more responsibility. With the media commitments, yes, but I'm still the same player. I'm still the same person, but winning the ANA Inspiration has given me so much confidence. Just even coming back to the tournament I remember the shots I hit every day, and it brings back so many great memories. But going into every tournament, I go in with extra confidence now knowing I've won this one. Q. Can you talk about coming in this week and how you feel about your game? Couple of top 10 this year for you, and you are top 10 in the Rolex World Rankings? LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well I had a pretty good last week at the Kia Classic. I got T10 overall, hit it pretty well. Just didn't get a few more putts to drop that I needed. Overall it's been a consistent year. Still haven't gotten that win. Hopefully saving it for here. But I've been working on my game extremely hard, especially on the short game. So it's good to see the improvement and just being consistent out there. Q. Obviously, this Tour has had teenagers who have won majors dating back to Inbee and Morgan Pressel, but still 19 to win a major, did that seem right, like the timing was right for you? Did you surprise yourself by winning a major before you were 20? LEXI THOMPSON: I wouldn't say it surprised me. I mean, working in my off-season last year that was pretty much my whole goal going into 2014. I wanted to win my first major championship, especially I've always seen myself jumping into Poppie's Pond at the ANA Inspiration, so it's been a dream of mine, and I've always visualized that. I was working extremely hard in the off-season, so all I could do is try my best and see where that took me. It was a dream come true. Q. Not just winning your first major, but the way you won it with the dual with Michelle Wie, how much over the course of the year did you hear from people you crossed who watched that and just commented on the fact that you were beating Michelle, and it was a lot of people watched it? LEXI THOMPSON: There definitely was a lot of people watching, because pretty much everybody that comes up to me says that was an amazing final round. Couldn't have asked for a better pairing there, especially all my Twitter comments and Instagrams. It was an amazing final-round grouping. We had a lot of people out there following us. I've obviously played with Michelle Wie a ton, and we have similar games. It was good to match up in that final round. Q. What was that experience like for you, and did you meet anyone for the first time at the champions dinner? LEXI THOMPSON: It was a huge honor being there last night. Being inducted into the champions club of the tournament is a huge honor. But to be there last night with all the past champions and just to be in a room full of inspirational and role models, I've always looked up to Nancy Lopez, especially, and it's just, it was a special night. I had my mom there to be there with me last night, and it was a dream of mine. Hopefully I'll get a few more wins here and keep on showing up at a champions dinner. It's always an honor. Q. This week is a rarity for you guys. You didn't have to get on a plane to get here and you're in the same time zone. What is the biggest challenge when you are hop-scotching continents, and how have you found -- how do you make the most of that? LEXI THOMPSON: I would say the hardest thing is just the time change and obviously the long flights. But once you're over there, we've gotten to see so many amazing places and different cultures and get to experience the best golf courses around the world. I mean, I'm 20 years old and playing golf for a living. It's always been a dream of mine to be on the LPGA, but to travel the world and do it, it's amazing. It's so much fun. Q. Can you just explain how do you keep your body clock in any kind of alignment so you're not falling asleep during a tee time? LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, you can't miss those tee times. It's tough. I've learned to try to sleep at night time on the way over on the plane, but it's pretty tough. Once you get to the place that you're traveling to, you have to stay up for as long as you can and fall asleep at their night time. It's hard because right when you get in you want to take a nap, but maybe go workout and just stay active until their night time. Q. As a follow-up to her question, what has been the toughest thing, now that you're such a veteran out here and have been around the block and seen all the courses and been on all the airplanes overseas, what is the toughest thing to deal with as a professional athlete and professional golfer? LEXI THOMPSON: Like I said, the travel is tough at times. After three, four weeks of it, it definitely gets tiring. Another tough thing is balancing your schedule out. Making time for yourself. It's obviously fun traveling and getting to see the different cultures. It's always a blast. You definitely have to make time for yourself, especially family time. I'm a very family oriented girl, and I love going home and being with my family and friends. Q. What do you do on that time? LEXI THOMPSON: When I go home, I'm very relaxed. I just hang out with my family, go to movies, bowling. I go to the beach a lot. Q. Bowling? Are you good? LEXI THOMPSON: I think my high game is like 180. That's not too bad. I'm not going to tell you my low. But it's just fun. I'm a very relaxed girl, anything kind of pleases me. Q. You mentioned at the champions dinner you met Nancy Lopez who you always looked up to. I wonder if you've met any older players that have been particularly good as mentors to you over your career here? LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I would say Nancy Lopez has been a huge role model to me. She was my Junior Solheim Cup team captain. She's like my mom for the week. I've gotten to know her really well. She's super nice on and off the golf course. And fans absolutely love her. That's how I want to be and how I want to be seen. But I know I can always call her up and ask her if I have any questions or if I need advice on anything. And it's huge coming from a player with so many accomplishments to always be there for you. Q. How about among active players that you see week in and week out, older but still active LPGA Tour players that have been mentors to you? LEXI THOMPSON: Well, pretty much everybody out here has taken me under their wing and always been there for me. They always say if you need anything, just ask me. That means a lot to me. Like Juli Inkster, especially. She's been a huge help to me. She's Solheim Cup team captain, so hopefully I'll get to know her very well too. Q. Could you elaborate on how important it was to preserve the Poppie's Pond tradition, and as a young girl coming up in the game, what kind of influence that was on you seeing that? LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well this tournament has so many traditions. Whether it's jumping into Poppie's Pond, putting that robe on after you jump into the pond, there are so many traditions and so much history behind this tournament. I think that's what makes this tournament so special and inspirational is that. But just the past champions that have won it, like I said, have been huge role models to me. I've always looked up to them. It was very important to keep this tradition going at this tournament here at Mission Hills. You know, we're very grateful for ANA coming in and picking up the tournament and keeping that tradition going. Q. Just a follow-up, Lydia Ko has 28 consecutive rounds under par. I don't think people really appreciate how difficult that is. Could you give us perspective on how good that is? LEXI THOMPSON: That's very good. I wish I had that (laughing). I got to play with her last week, and it's just incredible. Her game is very consistent. There is not a weakness in her game. She's very straight off the tee, and has a great short game. You can't ask for anything better than that. But it's great to play with her because she has a great attitude on the golf course, and probably the best tempo I've ever seen on a golf swing or a putting stroke. So it's good to see what she's doing. I hope all the best for her. Q. You've played the golf course this morning? LEXI THOMPSON: I did. Yeah, I played nine this morning, nine yesterday. Q. A little different conditions than what you played in last year. It looks like the sand is different for one thing, but the rough is also different. How much is that going to affect the playing of the course this week do you think? LEXI THOMPSON: It definitely is playing a lot different than last year. They've been watering it quite a bit, so it's softer, the rough is up, which, I mean, major championships should be. I'm happy to see that. But it's going to be playing tough, like it always does. You have to keep it in the fairway because it's a tree-lined golf course with thick rough. So just keep it in the fairway and hopefully sink some putts out there. Q. You mentioned about everybody helping you out here and some of the things that you've learned along the way, and you're blessed to be able to play golf for a living out here. What are maybe the one or two things that come to your mind that you enjoy most about being a golfer and a professional golfer on this Tour, specifically, at this time? LEXI THOMPSON: I think the biggest thing that I enjoy the most is just putting a smile on people's faces that watch me play. I'm a part of the LPGA USGA Girls Golf program now and an ambassador for that. It's incredible to see how much the game is growing on the women's side and to see all the little girls growing up in the game at such a young age, it's amazing to see. But just the amount of fans that we get at our tournaments now, it's incredible. Even on practice rounds we have people out here watching us, and always supporting us and cheering us on between holes. There is nothing like that feeling, getting rooted on by fans. It's the best. Q. It seems you balance it well knowing that they want to get the photos and the autographs, et cetera. Yet you have to have the tournament blinders on to keep playing 28 rounds consecutive under par, whatever that statistic might be. How do you deal with that? Because I know you take a lot of pictures with young girls and you're part of the girls golf program and all of that, and you want to see it grow? LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, there is definitely a balance in that that I have to take in, but I love taking pictures and signing autographs. No matter what I shoot, I stay for every autograph and every picture because the fans took time out of their lives and watched me come out and play bad golf sometimes. So why not take extra time and sign their autographs, take their pictures? It means the world to them. It doesn't matter what you shoot. You're a role model to them. So take the time and stay with them, take pictures. Q. On Sunday last year you only had 13 putts on the front nine. So you're obviously putting the ball well, but you also drove it exceptionally well last year. Do you ever look back on a swing video from that tournament or try to recapture what you're feeling that week or are you hitting the ball off the tee just as well now as you were a year ago. LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I'm definitely hitting it pretty well right now coming off last week. I definitely struck it pretty well. I didn't get the putts to drop. But definitely you'd see the few videos of this tournament from last year of highlights. It brings back so many good memories. To see those shots and the swings I made, it's good to look back at that and see how I was swinging and walking to each shot. You learn. I mean you learn from the good tournaments and you learn from the bad tournaments. That's what's great about golf. Q. What do you see in your walk up to a shot that you like? LEXI THOMPSON: Well, it's something I really learned when I first turned professional, and I struggled a few Sundays when I had the lead or was close to it. I just got really quick and just everything, my routine was quick. I didn't really focus on that, and that's huge. It's important to just slow down everything and take your time, breathe, and just focus on doing your routine before every shot. THE MODERATOR: Four Tour wins, one major, No. 9 in the world, defending champion, best of luck this week at the ANA Inspiration, and thank you for all you do for the LPGA and women's golf. COACHELLA VALLEY’S TOP STORIES READ MORE STORIES MORE THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERIES OF ALL OUR SHOOTS
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