Lexi Thompson, 29, announces stunning retirement plans

lexi thompson

Lexi Thompson plans to retire from competitive golf at the end of this LPGA season.

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What started 17 years ago — when she debuted as a 12-year-old phenom at the U.S. Women’s Open — has reached a full-circle moment for Lexi Thompson. On Tuesday at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, Thompson announced her intentions to retire at the end of this season.

Thompson, now 29, has fittingly never missed a U.S. Women’s Open start between then and now, but she will hang up her cleats when her 14th LPGA season finishes in November. She is scheduled to conduct a press conference Tuesday afternoon from Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa., but posted a video to Instagram of a letter she wrote to the sport.

“Golf — what can I say after all these years,” it begins. “You have played such an important role for the majority of my life. You welcomed me into your world at such a young age, and for that I am forever grateful.” 

“To all the girls that have cheered for me, you have been my inspiration, my encouragement and my strength,” she said. “On the days that were tough, and I wanted to give up, your support motivated me to dig deep and keep competing.”

The decision comes as a bit of a surprise given Thompson is still nine months shy of her 30th birthday, but her form has been trending in the wrong direction for much of the last year. Having spent most of her career in the top 30, she currently ranks 54th in the world and has gone nearly five years without a victory. 

Thompson has won 11 times in her LPGA Tour career, highlighted by one major championship, the 2014 Chevron, where she leapt into Poppie’s Pond at just 19 years old. Plenty of major championship contention followed but several ended in heartbreak. She infamously received a four-shot penalty at the same event in 2017 after mismarking her ball during the third round (an infraction called in from a viewer at home). She rallied into a playoff but lost to So Yeon Ryu in one of the sport’s most controversial finishes. Even Tiger Woods tweeted in her support: “Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes,” Woods wrote. “Let’s go Lexi, win this thing anyway.” 

Despite winning just the one major championship, Thompson has been a member of six Solheim Cup teams and has long been one of the game’s most popular players, routinely making time for fans at events. She has spent a majority of her career sponsored by Puma and Cobra golf, elevating the amount of sponsorship money reaching the women’s game. A recent report on women’s athlete sponsorships ranks her first above any other women’s golfers with a stunning 23 endorsement deals. 

“I think she does an amazing job for the Tour,” Nelly Korda said Tuesday immediately after hearing the news. “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.”

Thompson’s impact on the sport went even further last fall when Thompson accepted a sponsor’s exemption into the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children Open, an event on the PGA Tour. She wasn’t the first female to compete on the men’s tour, but boosted ratings for the event and nearly became the second woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. Her five-birdie second round left her just two shots short of the cutline, but well ahead of dozens of Tour players.

“Definitely at the top,” Thompson said afterwards, wearing a huge smile. “Definitely at the top of my accomplishments.”

Thompson’s final U.S. Women’s Open will begin with a 1:58 p.m. ET tee time Thursday alongside Rose Zhang and Minjee Lee.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Sean Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just published his first book, which follows his travels in Scotland during the most pivotal summer in the game’s history.

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