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Pro golfer Lexi Thompson is retiring at the age of 29 due to mental health issues

A 29-year-old player on the women’s professional golf tour has announced her retirement, citing the pressures of taking the spotlight to a professional sport.

Lexi Thompson, a 12-year veteran of the LPGA, confirmed she will retire from professional golf at the end of this season in an open letter she shared on Instagram on May 28.

“While this has been an amazing journey, it has not always been easy,” Thompson said in the letter, which was shared on Instagram along with a video montage of career highlights. “Since I was 12, my life as a golfer has been a whirlwind of constant attention, control and pressure. The cameras are always on, capturing every swing and every moment on and off the golf course.”

“Social media never sleeps, with comments and criticism pouring in from all over the world,” she added. “It can be exhausting trying to keep a smile on the outside while dealing with struggles on the inside.”

Thompson made history when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 at the age of 12, becoming the youngest person to ever do so, according to her LPGA biography.

Over the course of her career, Thompson became an 11-time LPGA Tour winner, a major champion, a two-time Olympian and earned more than $14 million.

Thompson said in her retirement video that amid her career highs, she has found solace in speaking publicly about her mental health “battles.”

“Being open about my own struggles has allowed me to connect with others who feel isolated in their struggles, offering them a sense of community and understanding,” she said. “Every time I share, it reinforces the message that it’s okay to not be okay, and that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

PHOTO: Lexi Thompson of the United States looks on during a practice round ahead of the US Women's Open presented by Ally at Lancaster Country Club on May 29, 2024 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Lexi Thompson of the United States looks on during a practice round ahead of the US Women’s Open presented by Ally at Lancaster Country Club on May 29, 2024 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Thompson also spoke Tuesday about the role mental health played in her decision to retire from professional golf during a news conference at the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open, the same tournament where her career began.

“I think we all have our own (mental) problems, especially here,” she said. “Unfortunately in golf you lose more than you win so it’s a constant battle to keep putting yourself in front of the cameras and keep working hard and maybe not seeing the results you want and getting criticized for that. So it’s like I will say, yes, I’ve struggled with it. I don’t think there’s anyone here who hasn’t. It’s just a matter of how well you hide it, which is very sad.”

She continued, “It’s important to get help and get the support and surround yourself with the people who support you and love you because there are always people who care about you so much and will help you get through it. those difficult moments.”

Thompson’s mental health comments come just days after the parents of professional golfer Grayson Murray confirmed the two-time PGA Tour winner had died by suicide.

“Life was not always easy for Grayson, and although he took his own life, we know he now rests peacefully,” Eric and Terry Murray said in a statement about their son.

Other professional athletes have also spoken publicly about the pressures of competing in the public eye, including gymnast Simone Biles and Los Angeles Rams backup quarterback Stetson Bennett, who recently confirmed that his time away from the team last season was related to mental health.

Thompson said that in her experience, being a professional athlete can be “lonely.”

“It can be a lot when I’m here. It can be lonely. Sorry if I get emotional,” she said on Tuesday, fighting back tears. “A lot of people don’t realize much of what we go through as professional athletes… We do what we love. We do our best every day and we are not perfect. We are human. Words hurt, and it’s hard sometimes to get over it.”

She credited a core group of people around her with helping her “get through some really tough times.”

“I think it’s a lot for anyone here, or in any professional sport,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what we go through and how much training and hard work we put through ourselves. It’s a lot and I think we deserve a lot more credit than what we get.”

If you or someone you know is having a suicidal, substance use or other mental health crisis, call or text 988. You will get free access to a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org.

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