‘I’m Proud Of Her’ – USGA CEO Mike Whan Praises ‘Courageous’ Lexi Thompson

Whan has backed Lexi Thompson’s decision to retire from full-time professional golf and paid tribute to the contribution to the game of the 29-year-old

Mike Whan at the 2022 US Women's Open
Mike Whan has praised Lexi Thompson after her announcement that she is to retire
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A day after one of the women’s game’s superstars, Lexi Thompson, revealed she will retire from full-time professional golf at the end of the season, USGA CEO Mike Whan has heaped praise on her.

Whan was speaking to the media ahead of the second women’s Major of the year, the US Women’s Open, which is organized by the USGA, where he had nothing but good things to say about both Thompson and her decision.

He began: “I'm excited if she's excited. If this is something that's going to make her happy, that's great.”

Thompson’s announcement came as a shock because she joins a list of LPGA stars to retire early at the age of just 29. However, she is preparing for her 18th successive US Women’s Open, having made her maiden appearance at the age of 12. Whan explained she’s more than served her dues – and handled herself brilliantly in the process.

Lexi Thompson takes a shot at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship

Mike Whan says Lexi Thompson has "definitely given her time" to the game

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“She has definitely given her time,” he said. “I think anybody in this room who works at the LPGA or did would tell you that if we were going to write a book about how to handle yourself off the golf course, not even talking about the competition and accomplishments on, but in terms of how to handle sponsors, how to handle fans, how to handle availability, she was a role model.

“If this is the next exciting thing for her, I'm the last guy who can tell you about moving on to the next thing because you feel like you need a new challenge.”

On the day of her announcement, Thompson also faced the media, where she revealed she was “very content” with her decision, and touched on the pressures of being a full-time pro. Whan, also raised that issue, particularly with regards to Thompson’s dedication to the game from such a young age.

He said: “I think a lot of regular fans don't comprehend - and I wasn't here yesterday when Lexi was talking - don't comprehend what it's like to lose ages 12 to 19 to a professional endeavor. Most of us had those experiences.

What feels like 29 to us probably feels like 39 to her in terms of missing some of those things that you always wanted to be a part of.”

Lexi Thompson and her caddie at the 2007 US Women's Open

Lexi Thompson made her US Women's Open debut at the 2007 edition

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thompson’s hugely successful LPGA Tour career, which includes 15 wins, has rewarded her financially to the tune of over $14m, and Whan said he hopes that has given her the freedom to make the choice best for her.

He added: “Maybe this is a glass half full, I'm excited if she feels like financially she can and wants to. There was probably a time when people wanted to step away at 29 and couldn't. Like I said, if that makes her happier and excited, then I think that's great.”

Whan then explained how Thompson’s decision is a mark of her courage. He said: “I have three kids, and I always say to my kids, the most courageous choice you'll make in your lives will be the choices you make that everybody else thinks are wrong from your thoughts, but you know it's the right choice for you.

"And I'm sure Lexi got a lot of counter points of view, but if she believes that's the right choice for her, I'm proud of her. Just another in a lot of courageous choices she's made in her career.”

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.