Lexi Thompson’s inspiring finish, cryptic comments leave us wanting more | Monday Finish

Lexi Thompson rode the golfing rollercoaster this weekend.

Lexi Thompson rode the golfing rollercoaster this weekend.

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re protesting slow play, three-putts and ‘Cart Path Only,’ among other things.

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Lexi rides the rollercoaster.

Since her arrival on the LPGA Tour more than a decade ago, Lexi Thompson has been one of pro golf’s main characters. She’s popular, talented, dynamic and successful. She’s also run into some truly tragic results on some of golf’s biggest stages. The combination has made her one of the game’s most fascinating figures.

It was understandable, if surprising, when she announced at the U.S. Women’s Open that this would be her final full-time season on the LPGA Tour. It hasn’t been easy living and performing in the public eye, she said, particularly during the tough stretches. It’s time to figure out what the rest of the world looks like.

But in her next tournament post-announcement Thompson played her best golf in months, battling for four days to get into a playoff and finish T2. And then at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA she played her way into contention through 54 holes; she began Sunday’s final round just four back. She’s been reluctant to admit that the good play and the announcement are related but it’s tough not to connect the two, particularly when she referenced “swinging free” as though a weight had been lifted from her game.

On Sunday, though, reality set in fast. Thompson bogeyed No. 1, bogeyed No. 2, bogeyed No. 3, doubled No. 4. She bogeyed 7 and doubled 8. She was eight over par through eight holes and was suddenly more than a dozen shots behind.

But then something wild happened: Thompson flipped a switch. She stuffed her tee shot at the par-3 9th to four feet, delighting the large crowd that had gathered by the clubhouse. Then she got up-and-down at the par-5 11th for another birdie. She fired another approach in close at No. 12 and tapped in for a third birdie. She hit it to eight feet and made another at No. 13. And she putted one in from the rough at No. 15. By the time she reached No. 18 any chance at contending was long gone but a chance at a smaller victory remained: a birdie at the finishing par-5 would get her back to red figures for the tournament and secure a spot inside the top 10. She left her chip some 14 feet short — but then dripped the putt into the middle of the hole, sending the grandstands into a frenzy. It was an inspiring, frustrating finish. It was hard not to wonder what could have been.

A small group of reporters caught up with Thompson after the round. She described a complex mix of emotions; how do you square eight over through eight with six under on your last 10?

“That’s the magic question,” she said. “I don’t know what was going on on the front nine, that’s the better question.”

In all, she said, it had been a good week.

“I think the positives are outweighing the negatives of today, just because of how I came back and I just fought and never gave up,” she said. “So really just going to build on that.”

Is it possible she’d reverse her retirement decision? All week she’d been cryptic about her future, saying things like “one day at a time” and “see where it takes me.” Sunday she acknowledged how satisfying it was seeing her game come together knowing how hard she’d worked in her weeks off. Thompson has said she has nothing left to prove but still — she sounded like a golfer with something left to prove.

“It was fun,” she said, then caught herself. Major championship golf isn’t really fun. “It was fun with the fans, it was overall an amazing week, we were treated so well, the golf course was in great shape, it was just mentally draining because it’s a tough golf course.”

Fun wasn’t the word. Frustrating, challenging, satisfying, rewarding? Those all applied. Riding the golf rollercoaster — and finishing with birdie? That’s golf stuff I like.


Who won the week?

Amy Yang won the KPMG Women’s PGA in a Sunday runaway; she started the final round with a two-shot lead, built it to seven midway through the back nine and ultimately won by three. I wrote about the scene behind the 18th green, where more than a dozen players rushed the green to congratulate Yang on her first major victory in her 75th start. (I wrote about the scene’s significance here.)

Scottie Scheffler won the Travelers Championship in a playoff over Tom Kim. The eye-catching part of this victory was the protestors storming the green. The wilder part was that Scheffler now has six wins this season — including the Masters and the Players — and keeps climbing higher on the history ladder.

Tyrrell Hatton won LIV’s Nashville event by six strokes; it was his first win anywhere in three years. It’ll be interesting to monitor his major eligibility going forward; he’s into next year’s Masters by way of a T9 finish but is one of LIV’s most talented players without a major exemption.

Guido Migliozzi won his fourth DP World Tour title at the KLM Open in the Netherlands; he gave up a three-shot lead and then battled back to force a playoff, which he won with two consecutive birdies. The win boosts him to No. 122 in the world and earns him a berth into the Open Championship.


But the next best thing.

Tom Kim had a big week; he celebrated his 22nd birthday with Scottie Scheffler and some pizza (Scheffler turned 28 the same day), he made his eighth consecutive PGA Tour start, he birdied No. 18 to finish off a 62-65-65-66 week and force a playoff.

“I feel like this year has been a lot of learning,” Kim said. “I’ve had a lot of learning lessons of trying to not label things. I am who I am, 10 wins on the PGA Tour, zero wins on the PGA Tour, it’s not going to change me.” He’ll make his ninth consecutive start at the Rocket Mortgage in Detroit this week.

The KPMG had three meaningful runners up: Jin Young Ko registered her best finish at a major since 2020, Lilia Vu showed her comeback from injury is for real and Miyu Yamashita played her way into Japan’s final Olympics spot.

And Bryson DeChambeau followed up his U.S. Open victory with a T3 finish on LIV, where he appeared to be the celebrity-in-chief.


U.S. Open follow-ups, in brief.

I’d been wondering why Matthieu Pavon finished out after Bryson DeChambeau on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open; he explained here.

Ratings from Pinehurst were strong — the final round was the most-viewed East Coast U.S. Open since 2013. More here.

There was plenty of chatter about Rory McIlroy’s putting, particularly his miss on 18. Padraig Harrington and Jon Rahm said it was harder than people think.

And our Alan Bastable deep-dived the question of whether, as the broadcast asserted, DeChambeau got lucky on his Sunday tee shots here.


Scottie vs. the NFL.


From Jin Young Ko.

I really enjoyed Jin Young Ko’s press appearances all week long, particularly her insight on “playing simple.”

“I’m really thankful to be playing really good,” Ko said en route to T2 at Sahalee. “Because the last couple months I wasn’t playing good, so I practiced a lot and I realized: golf is not easy but it’s not too hard.

“Everything is from my mind. If I’m thinking, like, ‘let’s play simple,’ it comes out really well. But like, this golf course isn’t easy; this golf course is really difficult. So if I’m overthinking, the result comes out bad. So I’m trying to think easy.”


We’re doin’ it, huh?

I’ll forgive you if you missed the massive announcement from Boston Common this week: they’ve completed their roster by signing Hideki Matsuyama, who will take the spot vacated by Tyrrell Hatton following his LIV signing. Coming off a Sunday where golf fans’ attention was divided between a PGA Tour Signature Event, an LPGA major and a LIV event — and all of this the week AFTER the men’s U.S. Open — it feels sort of comical to suggest that we in fact need more televised golf.

I’m not anti-TGL. I’m down with the TGL. It’s something different and it might flop, sure, but it might be kinda fun and it won’t compete with Sunday drama at stroke-play tournaments and nobody’s pretending it’s anything more than a different type of exhibition. Why not?

Still, I can’t believe it’s actually going to happen. We’ve heard about the idea now for a couple years but haven’t seen a match nor do we have a sense of how the whole “league” is going to feel. Even as discussions continue with the PIF and the PGA Tour about golf’s muddled future, the TGL rolls on. This section is supposed to end with a question, so here’s one: We’re really doing this TGL thing, huh?


Rory and the equator.

As I wrote in the tweet below, I’m in way too deep here, but a side-angle of Rory McIlroy’s putt on 18 at the U.S. Open brought me back to something he’d said at Augusta.

“Sometimes I can let the putter rise up a little bit too much on the way through, and then I can catch the ball sort of more on the equator,” he said at the time.

Look, that four-footer was a slippery fella. Even if he’d hit it firm he would have had to start it outside left. But is it possible he mishit the putt just enough that it lacked conviction and missed low right? I’m just asking questions here — decide for yourselves.


Monday Finish HQ.

It was incredible having a home game this week. There are no regular PGA Tour stops that are both north and west of Memphis (yes, seriously) so Seattle can feel a bit remote. But the LPGA pros seemed to embrace Sahalee as a major venue — the atmosphere, the conditions, the challenge, the natural beauty, even the trees — and Seattle’s golf fans embraced the tournament in return. 

It’s cool when major championships go to underserved markets. It’s especially cool when one of those markets is the city where I live. Now let’s just get the world’s best golfers back to Chambers Bay…

And if you haven’t, subscribe to the Monday Finish here! It’ll make me happy.

See you next week.

Dylan Dethier welcomes your comments at dylan_dethier@golf.com.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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