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Lexi Thompson, 29, will retire from professional golf at the end of the 2024 season. “Being out here can mean a lot. It can be lonely



CNN

Lexi Thompson will retire from professional golf at the end of the 2024 season and call time on a decorated career at the age of 29, the American announced on Tuesday.

The 11-time LPGA Tour champion announced her decision ahead of her 18th consecutive appearance at the US Women’s Open this week, 17 years since she burst onto the scene when – at just 12 years old – she became the then-youngest player to ever commit qualified for the tournament.

After turning pro three years later in 2010, the Floridian achieved major glory at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship – now the Chevron Championship – and represented Team USA at six Solheim Cups, as well as two Olympic Games.

“While it is never easy to say goodbye, it is indeed time,” Thompson wrote in a letter, accompanied by a video, on Instagram.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of the year as there are still goals I want to achieve. I look forward to the next chapter of my life. Time with family, friends and my trusted companion (dog), Leo.

“I will always look for ways to contribute to the sport and inspire the next generation of golfers. And of course I’m looking forward to some time for myself.”

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Thompson became the youngest ever to compete in the US Women’s Open in 2007.

Thompson peaked as high as No. 4 in the world as she amassed a string of titles, but injuries contributed to a gradual decline in the rankings to No. 54 in the world. She has not recorded a victory on the LPGA Tour since June 2019, but did win an individual title at the Aramco Team Series – a Ladies European Tour (LET) event – ​​in October 2022.

Thompson finished in the top three eight times across the five flagship events and repeatedly came agonizingly close to adding her only major crown, including an infamous near miss at the 2017 ANA Inspiration (now Chevron Championship).

A rule violation for mismarking her ball – reported by a TV viewer – saw Thompson given a four-shot penalty during the third round. Although she rallied to make a play-off, she was subsequently defeated by South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon.

“You have not always been easy on me, or fair, but through all the ups and downs you have given me a platform to inspire others and make a positive impact on the world,” Thompson said in her letter.

“That has been a driving force that kept me playing and working relentlessly to get better.”

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Thompson is soaked after winning her first major in 2014.

‘A whirlwind of constant attention, control and pressure’

Thompson spoke through tears Tuesday during a news conference at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania, host of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Her letter described a “whirlwind of constant attention, scrutiny and pressure” since her breakthrough as a 12-year-old, with social media playing a role in Thompson sometimes finding it “exhausting to smile outwardly as she grappled with the struggles of the workplace ‘. the inside.”

When asked what she was most proud of for overcoming during her career, a tearful Thompson replied, “Just staying true to myself. Being out here can mean a lot. It can be lonely.

“I’ll be the last person to say throw me a pity party. That’s the last thing I want. We do what we love. We try the best every day. You know, we’re not perfect. We are people. Words hurt. It is sometimes difficult to overcome.

“But having people around you who love you and support you, I think that’s been the biggest thing for me. I may not have a large group of friends, but the people around me who matter the most have helped me through some really tough times.”

David Cannon/Getty Images

Thompson in action during the 2017 Solheim Cup.

In October, Thompson became just the seventh woman ever to play in the PGA Tour event when she crossed the finish line at the Shriners Open, narrowly missing the cut after shooting even par.

Earlier this year, she joined compatriot Rose Zhang as the first woman to compete in The Match, taking on PGA Tour stars Rory McIlroy and Max Homa.

“To all the girls who cheered for me, you have been my inspiration, my encouragement and my strength,” Thompson added in her letter.

“On the days when I was struggling and wanted to give up, your support motivated me to dig deep and keep competing.”

Matt Rourke/AP

Thompson answered questions about her retirement on Tuesday.

‘An inspiring player on and off the court’

Following Thompson’s announcement, tributes poured in from fellow players, including from world No. 1 and US Women’s Open favorite Nelly Korda.

“She’s had such a great career,” Korda told reporters on Tuesday, chasing a seventh win in eight starts.

“I think she’s doing great for the Tour. She spends so much time going to every Pro-Am party. She has really dedicated her time to growing the game. It’s sad to see that she’s obviously leaving and won’t be here with us anymore, but she’s had a great career and I wish her the best in this new chapter of her life.

Reigning US Women’s Open champion and fellow American Allisen Corpuz added: “She has had such an amazing career. I looked up to her, and I’m not much younger than her, but I saw her play in several US Opens, saw her win a lot.

“She is such an inspiring player, both on and off the court. She is at almost every Pro-Am party and always up for anything. Just to see how she has influenced the Tour is very special, and I wish her all the best.”

LPGA greats Michelle Wie West and Annika Sörenstam were among those who commented on Thompson’s Instagram video, with 15-time winner Suzann Pettersen writing: “Thanks for all the fights, laughter and fairways we shared! Life after golf is even better. Enjoy the last part!”

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