U.S. Women's Open

Pros react to Lexi Thompson's retirement: 'She's done everything right'

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Juli Inkster and Lexi Thompson share a laugh during the 2017 Solheim Cup.

David Cannon

LANCASTER, Pa. — An unexpected post appeared on the USGA’s social-media accounts Tuesday during U.S. Women’s Open week announcing that Lexi Thompson plans to retire at the end of the 2024 season.

Thompson, 29, has been an important part of the tour for more than a decade, having joined in 2012 after turning professional in 2010 at age 15. The 11-time LPGA winner has been consistently popular among fans. Both current and former LPGA players see clearly the effect she’s had on women’s golf.

“Lexi’s been amazing for the game,” Juli Inkster told Golf Digest via text. Inkster got to know Thompson while being her captain for three Solheim Cups. “She’s done everything right. She goes to the pro-am parties, signs autographs and gives her time to different charities. She was one of my favorite people to have on all three of my Solheims. She loves representing her country. She will be deeply missed on the course.”

Another LPGA veteran, 18-time tour winner Meg Mallon, said via text, "Lexi has done an amazing job being a great ambassador for our tour. I can't even imagine the amount of young fans she has brought to the game in her tenure. I'm excited for her and what she can accomplish away from the grind of tournament golf. I wish her all the happiness she deserves in her next endeavors."

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Lexi Thompson signs autographs at the 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Elsa

Jennifer Kupcho, 27 and a three-time tour winner, recalled her days as a junior golfer and seeing Thompson's interaction with fans. “I remember how welcoming she was, and giving autographs because I was a kid there wanting an autograph,” Kupsho said. “Coming out here, I made sure to do that, too, to make time for the fans.”

Rose Zhang, a two-time LPGA winner, was also influenced by Thompson as a junior.

“I 100 percent looked up to her,” said Zhang, who'll be playing in the same group with Thompson during the opening two rounds at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club this week. “She really encouraged the women's game and elevated it. It’s sad to see her go.”

Zhang got to know Thompson by playing on a Solheim Cup team with her in Spain last fall and then competing with her in Capital One's The Match in February along with Rory McIlroy and Max Homa.

“She’s such a kind soul. Even though she has this big name, she works out so much, has so much dedication to her fitness and golf,” Zhang said. “It’s crazy how mild and sweet she is off the course. I’m super excited for her. I know she’s inspired not only me and almost everyone on this tour.”

Thompson’s work ethic was noted by other players, too.

“I don’t know if I know anyone who has had that much success, and still works harder than anybody,” Angel Yin, another tour winner, said.

Gabi Ruffels, an LPGA rookie, has seen the results of that hard work up close. “Her power game, off the tee—I played with her at the Chevron one year. She just hits bombs,” Ruffels said. “Her iron play is amazing, it’s super high. It’s quite impressive. She will be missed. She’s had such a huge impact on women’s golf.”

All of the effort Thompson has put into her game and into being present for the fans has made her, and the LPGA Tour, more popular.

“I think she does an amazing job for the tour,” said Nelly Korda, World No. 1. “She spends so much time going to each pro-am party. She really dedicated her time to growing the game. It's sad to see that she's obviously leaving and not going to be out here with us anymore, but she's had an amazing career, and I wish her the best in this new chapter of her life.”