It all caught up to Lexi Thompson on the 18th hole in Friday's second round of The Evian Championship. At 3 over on the day and looking at missing the cut in the season's final major, Thompson could no longer hide her frustration and overwhelming emotion.
She started tearing up, particularly after stubbing a chip for an up-and-down she needed to get to the weekend, fighting back the tears to play out the round.
Oh no 🙈 — Lexi needed to get this up and down at 18 to make the cut. Obviously a tricky chip, but what a brutal way to end the year's last major. pic.twitter.com/dImJH8DcKO
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) September 14, 2018
Speaking on Golf Channel, commentator Judy Rankin suggested more was driving Thompson's emotions than a frustrating day of golf.
"I think there's a build up of a whole lot of things that we are not privy to," Rankin said. "It's enough to know that she has said there are lots of things going on, and she is so obviously a talented player and fighting the game this year."
Thompson has been through trials on the golf course, dating back to the 2017 ANA Inspiration, when she was penalized four shots in the final round when a TV viewer noticed Thompson had improperly replaced her ball on the 17th green during Saturday's third round. Thompson learned of the penalty on the golf course two-thirds of the way into the round, and she played through tears to land in a playoff where she wound up falling to So Yeon Ryu.
Thompson has also faced personal problems. She was supporting her mom, Judy, as she battled cancer, which she announced was successful in November 2017.
In August, Thompson announced on Instagram she would skip the Ricoh Women's British Open in an effort to recharge her batteries and gather herself mentally and emotionally.
"I wanted to let you know that I am officially withdrawing from the 2018 Ricoh Women's British Open. It is extremely difficult for me not to play in this prestigious Major, but I realized recently that I need to take some time to work on myself," Thompson wrote. "The events of the past year and a half (on and off the golf course) have taken a tremendous toll on me both mentally and emotionally. I have not truly felt like myself for quite some time. I am therefore taking this time to recharge my mental batteries, and to focus on myself away from the game of professional golf. Thank you all so much for your continued support. I hope to see everyone soon as I plan to defend my title at the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship."
Thompson hasn't taken much of a break from golf in the last two years. She plays a lot on the LPGA. However, she has spent her life trying to become a dominant golfer. She still hasn't figured out what makes her happy outside of golf. She's sought professional help, as well as counsel from friends and family. During her two-week break, she didn't touch a club and took a short vacation. When she came back at Indy, Thompson spoke of her struggles.
“Last year and a half, I have honestly been struggling a lot emotionally, and it’s hard because I can’t really show it," she said. "It was just – it was so much to deal with. And I had to show that I was still OK and still play golf. And I don’t even know how I played that well, honestly. And I think it just kind of all hit me coming into this year. You can only stay strong for so long and hide it.”
Thompson put together a string of high and runner-up finishes on the LPGA. Indy was sight of her last win.
It's reasonable to wonder, as Karen Stupples did on-air, if Thompson would have played in the Indy Women in Tech Championship after the Women's British Open were she not the defending champion. She honored the expected commitment from a defending titleholder, and she finished T-12. She missed the cut in the Canadian Pacific Women's Open but finished T-9 in Portland as a precursor to this event.
How this week might affect her play and schedule the remainder of the year is unknown, but Thompson is right to put her well-being and happiness first.
“I’m not just a golfer,” said Thompson in Indianapolis. “I need to have a life as well and enjoy it.”