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Lexi Hoping for Second Straight Win in Dubai
Lexi Thompson earned her first international victory in the 2011 Dubai Ladies Masters, and she's hoping for a second consecutive title in the 72-hole, season-ending event on the Ladies European Tour, which begins Wednesday at the Emirates Golf Course.
Last year the native of Coral Springs, Fla., closed with a 5-under 67 to finish at 15-under 273, four strokes ahead of Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa.
Thompson, now 17, said her experience in Dubai was memorable, for a variety of reasons. "Probably my biggest memory is coming up the 18th green on the last day, all of the fans and walking up the 18th green with my dad was an amazing memory for me to have," she said Monday.
"I'm going to remember that every time I walk up to the 18th green. And just teeing off on the first hole, it's an amazing memory for me. Anywhere you win, you have amazing memories." (See below for her full interview.)
That title was Thompson's second last year; she also won the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama, a victory that earned her full playing privileges on the American circuit despite being only 16 and becoming the youngest player in LPGA history to win. That record stood for 11 months until Lydia Ko of New Zealand won the CN Canadian Women's Open in late August of this year.
Among the players in this year's Dubai field impressed with Thompson is World Golf Hall of Fame member, Laura Davies. "She (Lydia) is an extraordinary talent," said the 49-year-old Davies.
"I have seen her on the range a few times and she hits it straight and keeps the ball in play. She is always as cool as a cucumber," added the Englishwoman, who has 82 victories worldwide.
Thompson met with reporters to discuss her season and chances for repeating this week in Dubai. The teenager phenom finished 21st on the LPGA money list with $611,021. Here's what she had to tell the media on Monday.
MODERATOR: Can you start by talking about how it feels to be back here?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: It's great to be back here in Dubai. Look forward to this event and so far got to have my first ride on a camel yesterday. It's been a great week so far and hope to play well and have another victory.
Q. You haven't had a victory but you've had a lot of strong finishes, four or five top 10 finishes and you tied for 14th in the U.S. Open. Talk about the year.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, going into this year I was trying to improve on little things in my game and play consistent. Overall I did accomplish my goal; I had two top 10s, a second, and a fifth. I'm really happy with the way it is here and hopefully take it into next year and get some wins. I still have one more event to get it, but that's my goal going into every event, getting a win, but it's golf. It's the hardest sport in the world. So I just go into every event trying to do my best and that's really all I can do.
Q. In what sense do you think you have improved over your last year, this year?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Probably getting more consistent with my game, having my misses be tighter and not as erratic. That's what I've been working on, been working on my short game a lot, and been focusing on my hitting and chipping and putting. So I think I've improved a lot.
Q. Are there more expectations on you? Do you feel there's pressure on you this week to defend your title?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I don't think so. I have my own expectations for myself so I'm not thinking about anybody else's. I'm going into the event with the same attitude and just going to have fun. I'm in Dubai and playing golf, so you know, that's great for me and I'm looking forward to this week.
Q. Your last time here in Dubai, of course last season; what is it about this golf course that you love, and what brings out the best in your game here?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, well, it's a beautiful golf course overall. They keep it in amazing shape for us and I get to hit a lot of drivers. I love being here and it's a nice and relaxed atmosphere. The course is a good set-up and it rewards good shots, and like I said I get to hit a lot of drivers, which I like.
Q. What are your memories from last year and how much confidence did you take from that coming into this season?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Well, my memories, probably my biggest memory is coming up the 18th green on the last day, all of the fans and walking up the 18th green with my dad was an amazing memory for me to have. I'm going to remember that every time I walk up to the 18th green. And just teeing off on the first hole, it's an amazing memory for me. Anywhere you win, you have amazing memories.
Q. Do you have a score target in mind, something that you want to achieve that you know that might be a winning score?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I don't even remember what I shot last year. I'm not really thinking about a score, just focus on one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself, so just focus on doing my routine and stay into it.
Q. How has life changed away from golf over the past year, back home; is there more fame? How has it changed over the last year as you've gotten a bit older?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Well, I've had more media attention. But I'm still the same person and with my family everything, and I just have fun off the golf course and just relax with my family when I do get home. It's nice, I get a break after this event, I'm going to Disney, so should be a lot of fun.
Q. On that same note, I was just reading you met Tiger this year and you also were in his golf video game. Just maybe talk about that and what was that like meeting him. You did that in the last few months, yeah?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, I got to meet Tiger at the Notah Begay Challenge, and it was amazing, just meeting a role model. I've always looked up to him so it was great to meet him and talk to him. And he said I'll play golf with you any time, and that means a lot coming from a person at that level. Being in Tiger Woods '14 is amazing and it's an honor to be in the video game. I've seen some of the pictures of my animation and it looks so real. I got to do that a few months ago, so that was quite an experience.
Q. How would you follow that up -
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Well, what I achieved at a young age, I knew I worked extremely hard, that's what I've done my whole life, with two older brothers, they have made me so much better. I've practiced hard my whole life and that's what I'm going to continue do because I know that what it takes to be great at the game.
Q. I understand you and Michelle went to go on a camel ride and you befriended Michelle; you're kind of going through her experience, perhaps you can talk about how you've gotten to know Michelle over time?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, I've become pretty good friends with her. I've gotten to play with her a lot this year actually. You know, we don't hang out too much, but we went on a camel ride yesterday, and I had never been on a horse before, much less a camel. It was a lot of fun and she's a very nice fun and amazing player obviously.
Q. Has she given you any tips -
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I've played with her a lot and I would say we know each other's games pretty well but not too much off the golf course.
Q. What's your favorite video game -
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I probably prefer Tiger Woods games - I would just say Tiger Woods '14. I played those with my brother when we were little, and so I'm sure he'll play with me and try to beat me.
Q. When you were playing with somebody else - is it Lexi you played or other players?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I played Tiger in the game. The power drive where he gets the power swing going it will be interesting to play me in the video game. It will be pretty weird but it will be awesome.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Oh, not too sure. I'm okay. It's a lot of fun, especially with my brother around, too.
Q. Have you played yourself on the video game or not? Is it out yet, the game?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: No, it hasn't come out yet. But it is pretty amazing. They actually - on the greens, they actually have the real breaks in the greens. They asked and answered all the greens. It's amazing how technology is, to scan the greens and have the breaks on them. I had a whole black suit on with censors all over my head everything and, my shoes.
Q. Must have been a surreal experience to then play yourself in a computer game?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, it is, it's pretty crazy, and if I see me on the video game, it's actually me. But once I'm play myself, I'll realize what I went through with all of the censors and I had to do my reactions and everything. It's pretty funny.
Q. Michelle was saying she was ill and not able to come to the conference. Did she show signs of being ill?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Not when we were riding the camel but after she became a little sick and then bed rest and that's all I heard.
Q. When did you do the video and where was that?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I would say probably around four or five months ago.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Hopefully in real life because I had to act out some bad shots on there so I don't really - I had to do my reactions and everything. It was pretty amazing so I'm looking forward to the outcome of it.
Q. Just going back to Michelle, how big a loss would it be if through illness she was not able to participate for whatever reason and she couldn't play?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: It would be a big loss. She's a hit at every event; and Omega being her sponsor, she's definitely well known here and a lot of people would come out to watch her. It would be a big loss, but if you're that sick, you can't play and risk getting worse.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I know how to play this course pretty well. It's my third year. I'm pretty confident going into every tee shot, and winning last year brings back a lot of good memories. So hopefully I'll remember that and some of the holes. It definitely brings a lot of motivation to me coming into this year.
Q. Who is with you this week?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: My dad is not here. He's with my brother at Q School but my mom is here, her second time out of the country. We brought her to the Emirates mall last night, so she got to experience that. She's having fun so far, and one of my agents is here.
Q. Who is your caddie?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Last year was my dad and this year it's Greg Johnson.
MODERATOR: Good luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.