Alexis Thompson may be just 15, but she already has competed in three U.S. Women’s Opens, and in early June, registered a 4-0-1 mark in leading the USA Curtis Cup Team to a 12.5-7.5 victory over Great Britain at Essex County Club. That competition completed Thompson’s amateur career, one that also included the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior title. Thompson chatted with Lynn DeBruin about the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club and her decision to turn pro at such a young age.
Q. Why is the U.S. Women’s Open special to you?
Thompson: It’s the biggest event to play in. And it’s a privilege to be in it. You’re going against the best in the world. This will be my fourth time. [Last year at Saucon Valley Country Club], a lot of people came out and watched. I loved it. Having everybody watch and cheer you on, it was an amazing experience.
Q. What will it be like playing Oakmont, where the men played a few years ago?
Thompson: I have not yet been to Oakmont but I’ve heard about it. I heard it’s a little tricky. I heard the greens are pretty hard and how you can putt it off the green. It should be interesting. I’m looking forward to playing.
Q. Does that scare you?
Thompson: It doesn’t really scare me. It’s just a hard golf course. You have to be really consistent. It sounds like par will be a pretty good score.
Q. But is it special to be playing the same courses as the men?
Thompson: That means a lot to me. Then people see how the men played on it and how the women play. I’m sure they’ll have to make it a little easier for us.
Q. Last year at the U.S. Women’s Open, you walked with such a confident stride. Why is that?
Thompson: It’s just determination. I have a lot of determination to play good. I strive to do really well. I never give up. I never do even when I’m playing terrible. I’m like, OK, stop this, make some birdies, wake up and start playing some golf.
Q. Where do you think that comes from?
Thompson: Maybe watching my [older] brothers [Nicholas and Curtis] play, growing up around them. They sort of taught me. They had confidence, too. We’re all just really determined.
Q. You just finished the Curtis Cup, helping the USA defeat Great Britain and Ireland. Where are you off to next?
Thompson: I go straight to New Jersey for the Shop-Rite [Classic]. It will be my first event as a pro. I’m looking forward to it. I’m really looking forward to this event.
Q. How do you think you’ll handle your first event as a pro?
Thompson: I might be nervous on the first tee but that will be about it. I’m excited to get out there, take my game to the next level.
Q. What tells you that you are ready?
Thompson: Probably just playing in other LPGA [Tour] events and seeing who I’ve played with and my finishes. I know if I have four good rounds I can compete. It’s one round that’s been getting to me. I’m going to try to get past that.
Q. How will playing for money affect you?
Thompson: It doesn’t really change things. It won’t be different. I’ll have nothing to lose, just try to do my best.
Q. Do you look back at last year’s Women’s Open where you finished tied for 34th and what the payout would have been?
Thompson: I think I would have won $25,000 or so (actually $20,702). I definitely thought about it. Man, I would have made this much. I could have gotten something with it. But it was all a great experience.
Q. So what plans do you have for that first check?
Thompson: I’m getting my [driver’s] license at the beginning of next year. Maybe I’ll look at a few cars. I turn 16 on Feb. 10. Now I [still] have to ride with my parents.
Q. Do you have a particular vehicle in mind?
Thompson: I’m looking at the Infiniti SUV. I’ve got to get a car to fit my clubs.
Q. You’ve been home schooled the past four years. Is that a good fit for you?
Thompson: It’s really a great experience if you play a sport. It’s all online. All the teachers are there to call or e-mail if you need help. You get it done in the morning then you’ve got all day to practice. It’s been great for me and my brother [Curtis]. He’s been doing it for six years.
Q. Do you feel like a normal 15-year-old?
Thompson: I’m definitely normal. I go out to movies, go bowling, do all that kind of stuff.
Q. So what’s a typical day like?
Thompson: With school I wake up around 6:30, do school work until 8:30. Have breakfast then practice from 9-12. We live on the course (Eagle Trace in Coral Springs) so my dad drives us over. Then it’s lunch, or I might work out at lunch time, too, or do it at night. I have a little gym in my house. I do legs and core stuff using weights. Then I have the whole afternoon and we usually play 18 for sure if not more. A day without school we pretty much switch the wake-up time to 8.
Q. When do you get away from golf?
Thompson: At night is my unwinding time. I hang out with my parents, watch TV. I love going to the movies.
Q. So are you are Tweeter?
Thompson: I’m not a tweeter. I’m on Facebook.
Q. So what are you expectations for the Open?
Thompson: Pretty much play well and see where that takes me. The goal is to get the top 15. I try not to set my goal too high. But I will be trying to do well.
Lynn DeBruin is a Colorado-based freelance writer whose previous work has appeared on USGA websites.