When I was covering the U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs this year, I happened upon a disappointed Lexi Thompson, walking to the practice range on the Saturday morning of the tournament.
But she wasn't preparing to play a round of golf. She was just practicing.
Opening rounds of 77-76 sent Thompson packing—well, figuratively. She missed the cut, but decided to hang around The Broadmoor for the weekend. And believe me, if you've ever been to the beautiful Broadmoor, you'll know why she stayed.
Thompson had high hopes for the U.S. Open in 2011. Just a year earlier, the then-15-year-old was in contention at the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club, eventually finishing T10. But this year was unfortunately a different story.
On her way to the practice area, she quietly meandered through the thousands of golf fans as if she was one herself. I was a bit surprised nobody stopped her for an autograph or even seemed to notice her.
I remember thinking, "I wonder if anyone knows who this is? This is the next face of the LPGA Tour." With an exclamation point.
OK, so that's my prediction—that Alexis Thompson has what it takes to take over the LPGA Tour. But I know I'm not alone in my thinking.
Thompson has next level talent to go with her girl next door appeal, million dollar smile and genuinely friendly demeanor. Plus, there's just an innocence and joy about this young lady.
Whatever "it" is—whether it can be accurately described or not—Thompson's got it.
After a couple hours of roaming the course, I walked past the practice area on my return to the clubhouse, and there she was—still practicing, hitting sand shots over and over and over.
I don't know her regular practice schedule, but it appears the hard work has paid off.
With a four-day total of 271, Thompson, now 16, was the winner this afternoon at the Navistar LPGA Classic, and in claiming victory, she became the youngest champion ever on the LPGA Tour.
Youngest. Champion. Ever.
For the past year, I've been convinced that someday Lexi Thompson will be one of the faces of the LPGA Tour. Her someday appears to have started today.