18 Questions With Alexis Thompson

March 25, 2009

In 2007, Alexis Thompson, at 12 years, 4 months, became the youngest to ever qualify for a U.S. Women's Open, surpassing fellow south Floridian Morgan Pressel. Last July, Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., became the second-youngest champion in U.S. Girls' Junior history , winning the title at 13 years, 5 months. (Aree Wongluekiet was 13 years, 3 months in 1999).

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Thompson has shown since then that she will be a dynamic force in junior and amateur golf, having won two big Florida events in January, the South Atlantic Ladies Amateur by 13 shots and the Doherty, an elite match-play competition. Not long after those triumphs, she received a sponsor's invitation to compete in the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the season. Recently, USGA Digital Media staff writer David Shefter visited with this up-and-coming talent to chat about being the defending U.S. Girls' Junior champion and life as a phenom.

Question: How much did winning the U.S. Girls' Junior title change your life?

Thompson:  A lot. Just knowing that I won the Junior is pretty awesome. I mean that's a big title. I was really happy. To get my name on a trophy with some of the Hall of Famers is really awesome. When I got the trophy I was just like, 'Wow, I actually get to keep this for a year.'

Are you amazed at how quickly your success has come?

Thompson: It's gone by so fast. My last few events, I had like six in a row and it felt like I had played in two.

The cat-loving Alexis Thompson said she would work in a pet store if she didn't play golf. (John Mummert/USGA)
At the South Atlantic Ladies Amateur in January you were paired with one of the game's great amateurs in Carol Semple Thompson. What was it like to play with a Hall of Famer?

Thompson: I knew about the Curtis Cups. But once the starter rattled her accomplishments at the tee box and they did it for like five minutes. They said like 50 things about her and like two things about me. I thought I was good. I was amazed at how good she hit it for her age. I don't think she mishit her driver when I played with her. That first day, she made like every putt. Just being around her I learned something.

Then in February you get an e-mail from the Kraft Nabisco Championship inviting you to play in the LPGA's first major of the season. Describe your emotions when upon receiving the news.

Thompson: I was so excited. Me and my mom screamed when we opened it.

Will the experience of playing in two U.S. Women's Opens help you with your preparations for the Kraft?

Thompson: The first Open that I played in [at Pine Needles in 2007], I was just so excited. I was so excited that I was not even thinking about playing golf. It was amazing. The second one [at Interlachen C.C. in 2008] I was really focused. I guess probably just nerves got me [she missed the cut, shooting 75-77]. The two Opens probably helped get me focused. I'm out there to play my game. I am just going to try to do my best. I want to go low and make the cut.

Your 26-year-old brother, Nicholas, is an exceptional player who is in his third full season on the PGA Tour. Have you ever caddied for him or has he ever caddied for you?

Thompson: No. He did [caddie for me] once at a U.S. Girls' Junior qualifier. Things didn't go so well. After that day, he will never pick up my bag again. Never!

Does his success inspire you?

Thompson:   I eventually want to go on the tour one day and make money. And that's what he's doing. I just want to follow in his footsteps. I've seen what he's done to get there. All the hard work. All the practicing.

Your other brother, 16-year-old Curtis, also is a fine player. What's it like when all three of you get together for a round of golf?

Thompson: It's sort of hard to compete, especially from the blue. They compete a lot against each other. On weekends, we chip and do putting contests. And they do it for money or for chores. We do chips for chores.

In what part of your game would you like to see more improvement?

Thompson: Putting. The 10- to 15-footers. I hit a lot of greens. I need to make more putts.

Do you enjoy being home-schooled over attending a regular school?

Thompson :  It's a lot better than being at school for like seven hours. I'd much rather do this. It's much easier. I get a lot more time to practice.

I see you have three cats. You must love pets, no?

Thompson: I like all animals. I don't like ones that bite, though, and none of those creepy crawler ones either. No spiders. I like the furry ones. Little, cuddly furry ones.

I understand you have a passion for ladybugs?

Thompson : I'm obsessed with ladybugs. They're lucky. They work. I swear. I have a ladybug anklet on my bag. My necklace and my earrings that I never take off [have ladybugs]. I have a lucky stone that has a ladybug on it.

What's on your iPod?

Thompson: I listen to a lot of rap. I actually love everything except for country.

Are you still into Hannah Montana?

Thompson: I still listen to her. I watch the Disney Channel. None of the cartoon shows like Sponge Bob. More teen stuff.

You recently turned 14. Any cool birthday presents?

Thompson: I got three really nice belts. Two ladybug ones and a puma one. I'm into belts, too. Bling-bling belts. Big and sparkly.

As you probably already know, the Curtis Cup Match is set for next June in Massachusetts. How much is that event on your radar screen?

Thompson:  I definitely want to play in it really bad. I just heard about it when I was at the SALLY. Now I am going to play some more amateur stuff.

With your hectic schedule, how do you find time for anything besides golf and school work?

Thompson: There are some days where I just want to lay down and watch TV. But I never do. I always want to practice. [Baking and doing crafts] takes my mind off of golf. It doesn't prevent you from hitting it bad. When I'm off the golf course, it's what I do. It's fun.

Do you think it will be different at the U.S. Girls' Junior this summer as the defending champion?

Thompson: I am going to try to do really good this year. If I don't, it's just one tournament. When they get me in a match, they probably will be thinking that [it's a chance to beat the defender]. It's match play. Anybody can win. You always have got to play good.

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