Goodbye to right eye: Lexi Thompson retires

“Golf, what can I say about all these years. You have played a very important role for most of my life"

by Andrea Gussoni
Goodbye to right eye: Lexi Thompson retires
© Mike Stobe/Getty Images Sport

The age of 30 seems to be to golf what 28 is to music. A cursed number. On Saturday, Grayson Murray, at that age, tragically took his own life in a Texas hotel after withdrawing from the Charles Schwab Challenge's second round on Friday, leaving the public, media, and fellow players stunned.

And now, this Tuesday, Lexi Thompson, who is nearing that same milestone, announced that she will retire at the end of the season. In both cases, mental health played a significant role: the former ended his life as his career was on the rise, leaving behind a past of alcoholism and various incidents, while the latter is leaving a professional world that, while giving her much athletically, has taken a toll on her personally.

Lexi Thompson, statements

Lexi, born in Coral Springs, Florida, on February 10, 1995, was precocious in every aspect. At just 12 years old, she qualified for the US Open, becoming the youngest player in history to do so (a record surpassed by Lucy Li at age 11 in 2014).

At 15, she turned professional, and at 16, she became a champion on the LPGA Tour after winning the Navistar Classic. No one had debuted on the women's circuit at such a young age. Over the next 13 years, she would secure 15 more tournament victories, including one major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship (now Chevron) in 2014.

She was 19 years old at the time, another record. She accumulated 19 top-10 finishes (8 top-3) in Grand Slam events, which in women's golf includes five tournaments, one more than in the men's. But she wouldn't break through again.

Perhaps partly explained by this, although she hinted on occasion that she intended to retire before turning 30, were the internal struggles of a player who captured fans' hearts from the get-go with her explosive mix of affability and competitive drive.

To draw a parallel, in men's golf, she would be like Rickie Fowler. The darling of the public, the favorite, even though her resume, like the Californian's, never quite matched (excessive?) expectations. Lately, she had been grappling with mental health issues, at times exhausted by media exposure and the need to please.

In fact, her mood was the reason she decided not to compete in the British Open in 2018. She recently admitted that her health had not been at "100%" for some time. Her victory count remained frozen in 2019, and recently, her standout moments had been at the Solheim Cup, with a great performance in the last edition held in Malaga last year, and in the PGA, the men's circuit, to which the Shriners Children's Open belonged, a tournament she was invited to play in the fall.

She thus became the seventh woman in history to compete in a men's tour event and came close to making the cut with rounds of 73 and 69 strokes. “Golf, what can I say about all these years. You have played a very important role for most of my life.

You welcomed me into your world at a very young age, and for that, I will be forever grateful. To all the girls who have cheered me on, you have been my inspiration, my empowerment, and my strength. On the toughest days, when I thought about giving up, your support motivated me to keep competing,” Lexi wrote on her social media this Tuesday.

With the remainder of the season ahead, including her next appearance at the US Open this week (the 18th of her career, having played more years than not throughout her life), it marks the final burst of talent from a player born to shine, tragically consumed by her own unique nature.

Lexi Thompson