LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Not much fazes Lexi Thompson. She’s been under the media spotlight since age 12, when she first qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, and now ranks fifth in the world. The 21-year-old seems to take it all in stride, whether she’s shooting a commercial with Usain Bolt, competing in a men’s event, or playing a round of golf with President-elect Donald Trump.
Twice now Thompson has played with Trump in south Florida since he won the Nov. 8 election, most recently with brothers Curtis and Nicholas. They typically play a friendly team competition with Lexi as Trump’s partner and cart companion.
“We let Trump pick,” Lexi noted of the teams.
Both brothers competed earlier this week in the Bahamas on the Web.com Tour, with Nicholas finishing tied for second. For the second time in just over a month, Lexi will play against the men at the Diamond Resorts Invitational, though this time she won’t have a partner (she competed in the Franklin Templeton Shootout alongside teammate Bryson DeChambeau).
She’s joined by LPGA pros Brooke Henderson, Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome in the three-day event at Tranquilo Golf Club that features celebrities and PGA Tour Champions players. It’s believed to be the first time multiple LPGA players have competed individually against male pros in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
“I think it will bring a lot of respect for women’s golf if we play well,” said Lang, the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion.
Lexi first met Trump at the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Three years later as a young pro on the LPGA, she began playing out of Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla. The club’s logo is on her staff bag, directly under Lexus.
Before Trump ran for Leader of the Free World, Lexi said he’d have five people with him during their friendly rounds. Now it’s at least 30. Twenty follow them around the golf course, and the rest are back at the clubhouse.
“I don’t know if I feel very safe or in danger,” she said, laughing. “It’s interesting.”
It’s usually a feel-good vibe, Lexi said, with Trump doling out compliments. When asked if she ever had any questions for Trump, Lexi said, “No, no, no, no. I’m not into politics, so honestly I can’t even ask him anything.”
After the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, Lexi got a two-day lesson with instructor Kevin Kirk. It marked the first time the pair had worked together, and they focused on getting her swing more in control, going at it about 70 to 80 percent. Lexi said she had a tendency to get the club stuck behind her and would fire her hips too early, resulting in a big right miss.
She plans to see Kirk again after the LPGA’s season-opening event in the Bahamas later this month. She’ll also try out a new caddie at the Pure Silk event on Paradise Island. This week she has her boyfriend on the bag.