On the verge of world No. 1, Lexi Thompson assesses Solheim Cup success
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On the verge of world No. 1, Lexi Thompson assesses Solheim Cup success

What a year it’s been for Lexi Thompson.

Thompson has flourished on the course despite disappointments personal and professional, including seeing a likely major championship victory slipping away at the ANA Inspiration back in April due to a much-publicized rules infraction that was called in by a TV viewer. On a personal level, Thompson has faced a range of emotions of supporting her mother and best friend, Judy, as she battles uterine cancer. 

The 22-year-old – No. 2 in the Rolex rankings – has won twice (Kingsmill Championship, Indy Women in Tech Championship), finished second five times and heads into this week’s Evian Championship in France with the opportunity to overtake No. 1 So Yeon Ryu as the top-ranked player in the world. Thompson leads the LPGA Tour’s Race to CME Globe standings.  

At last month’s Solheim Cup, Thompson’s inspired play during the back nine of her Sunday singles match against Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist helped the U.S. capture a 16.5-11.5 victory at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa. After Nordqvist raced out to a 4-up lead through nine holes, Thompson responded by playing the final nine holes in 8 under – including two eagles – to secure a halve in the match.

Thompson’s performance and determination left the golf world buzzing and surely served as motivation for her Solheim Cup teammates.

“Anna was playing some amazing golf throughout the entire day, and I just felt a little out of sorts in the beginning,” Thompson said. “(Team USA captain) Juli Inkster and I chatted a little bit during the match and she helped me to get back to a proper rhythm. I just tried to focus on each individual shot and not look at the overall situation. I knew I had to turn things around, to help give my team some momentum.  

“It's never easy when you get off to a slow start, whether it's in match play or stroke play, but I guess you really just have to focus on trying to hit one good shot and build some positive momentum from there.”

Thompson, whose interaction with Inkster served to jump-start her round, was quick to sing the praises of the Team USA captain who also guided the 2015 team to victory at the Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany.

“Juli has done such an incredible job as captain both times,” Thompson said. “She has done it all as a player, so she commands total respect. And she creates such a relaxed and fun atmosphere that everyone really seems to play their best for her.”

Having played on the past three Solheim Cup teams, is it still as exciting for Thompson as it was the very first time? You better believe it.

“It actually means more to me now because I know what an amazing feeling it is to put on the red, white and blue colors and play for my country,” she said. “There is no better feeling than that. I believe that representing my country is the highest honor that we as players can have, and to be able to help contribute to the American team to retain the Solheim Cup was just an amazing experience for me.”

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John Lahtinen