US star Lexi Thompson believes there is no higher honour in golf than representing your country in the Olympics
Lexi Thompson On Olympic Dream: “There’s No Higher Honour”
Lexi Thompson headlines the Aramco Team Series this week, where she revealed her delight at qualifying for her second Olympic Games and just how much it would mean to leave Tokyo next month in possession of Olympic Gold.
Thompson, who has a tattoo of the Olympic Rings, will represent Team USA alongside new World No. 1 Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang and Jessica Korda.
And for all the 26-year-old’s achievements to date – 11 LPGA Tour titles, which includes a major at the 2014 ANA Inspiration – standing on the top step of the podium would be her greatest success.
“Winning a Gold Medal would probably be the highest achievement of my career, I would have to say that would be higher than anything,” the World No. 9 said.
“We have our regular events and our majors and of course we want to win them all but winning a Gold Medal, you don’t get the opportunity just to be in the Olympics in general very often so to grab a hold of that would be very special.
“But I’m just going to take it one shot at a time, there’s a lot of golf to be played and we’ll see how it goes.”
Golf returned at the Rio Olympics in 2016 after a lengthy campaign, with Thompson finishing in a tie for 19th, seven shots out of the medals and 13 behind runaway winner Inbee Park.
The tournament was affected by the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, forcing several players – particularly in the men’s draw – to withdraw as safety concerns dominated the build-up.
Fast forward five years and golf’s second modern-day Olympics has suffered similar disruptions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with Charley Hull and Georgia Hall both deciding not to join Mel Reid for Team GB.
But once the goal of qualification had been realised, nothing was going to stop Lexi from teeing it up at Kasumigaseki Country Club in the red, white and blue colours.
“Coming into the year it was more on my mind than any other but for the last year and half it was on my mind because I was in the top 10, top 11 in the world rankings,” Thompson said.
“So it was always on my mind but I just want to represent my country so knowing that it was this year I was like, ‘Alright I want to be in Tokyo representing my country’. There’s no higher honour than that.
“So looking forward to going and being around the other athletes and I think that they’ll have everything under control and safe for us.
“I know that it’ll be a little more strict with lockdowns and everything so I know they’ll do their best to keep us safe and healthy and I have no doubt about that over there.
“I’ve been to Japan quite a few times and I know it’s very clean and once I heard about the Olympics I was like, ‘Nothing is stopping me from going. If I’m on the team I’m going’.”
Thompson is the headline act at this week’s Aramco Team Series event in London at the Centurion Club where, as well as the individual title that’s up for grabs, 36 groups of four will battle it out for a share of the $1 million prize pot.
Made up of three pros and an amateur, the two best nett scores per hole will count for each team, meaning the fate of the tournament could conceivably be decided by the jangly nerves of your local club hacker.
Whatever happens though, the US star thinks unique events like this are great for the game.
“I think it’s just a great format, it’s a good change for golf,” she added.
“Golf being an individual format we don’t get this opportunity very often and having an amateur part of the team as well, it’s just going to be a really fun experience to be involved in a team and at the same time play as an individual as well and have both sides of that.
“So I think it’s great what Aramco is doing and I’m just really looking forward to the week. I’m super honoured to be here.
“They [the amateurs] might get a little nervous but I’m just hoping that they go out and have a good time with us if they want to ask us any questions or anything like that.
“I just hope that they enjoy the experience and really embrace it because this opportunity doesn’t come around too often where you get to play with multiple pros.
“I think fans will enjoy this format a lot more and come out and support us and just enjoy the experience rather than just regular four rounds of golf.
“Maybe it can get a little boring for the regular fan. I think it’s just great for the game to change things up and really get a lot more people involved.”
Thompson will be joined by fellow pros Dame Laura Davies – whom she chose in the captain’s draft – and Spain’s Elia Folch, with former champion jockey AP McCoy rounding out the star-studded quartet.