Lexi Thompson abruptly withdrew from the Women’s British Open three weeks ago, citing emotional and mental exhaustion. “I have not truly felt like myself for quite some time,” Thompson wrote on Instagram. “I am therefore taking this time to recharge my mental batteries, and to focus on myself away from the game of professional golf.”
The 23-year-old’s sabbatical has ended, returning to this week’s Indy Women in Tech Championship. Speaking to the media, Thompson, who is the event’s defending champion, tried to explain what spurred her surprise exit.
“I would say it’s just figuring out what really makes me happy off the golf course, as well, figuring myself out,” Thompson said. “I have transformed myself around this game for such a long time, ever since I was five years old.”
Thompson said she’s still trying to deal with the effects of 2017. Thompson experienced two high-profile incidents inside the ropes last year, losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff following a four-stroke penalty for incorrectly marking her ball, and missing a two-foot putt at the season-finale CME Group Tour Championship for a potential victory. The 23-year-old also attended to her mother’s battle with cancer.
“It was honestly just a buildup,” Thompson said. “The last year and a half, I have honestly been struggling a lot, emotionally, and it’s hard because I can’t really show it. It was just so much to deal with, and I had to show that I was still okay and still play golf. And I don’t even know how I played that well, honestly. And I think it just kind of all hit me coming into this year.
“You can only stay strong for so long and hide it. I am a very strong person, but at times you just need a break.”
Thompson was apologetic for missing the Open, her first skipped Major of her professional career. However, Thompson said she couldn’t get herself into the competitive spirit that the championship warrants.
“It was definitely a hard decision for me,” Thompson said. “The British Open, I never want to skip that event. It’s just a very prestigious event. But with how I was, just mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready to compete there. I was struggling with my game. Besides that, I was just struggling with myself.”
In spite of her struggles off the course, this year has still been relatively productive inside the ropes. While winless in 13 appearances, Thompson has logged five top-10s and is still in the top five in the world ranking.
“You just have to take the positive out of everything, realise that I have had a great year,” Thompson said. “I haven’t won, but I’m trying my best in every tournament, that’s all I can do.”