Lexi Thompson took a big break, but may be hampered by injury heading into season’s first major

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Lexi Thompson’s making an LPGA Tour start. That sentence, typically, would be nothing out of the ordinary. But the 2023 LPGA Tour season, entering its seventh tournament, has only seen Thompson once—at the LPGA Drive On Championship a month ago. Even then, Thompson didn’t stay for the weekend, missing the cut.

The American star arrives to the Chevron Championship this having, in part, focused on her life away from the course before the major at Carlton Woods.

“Just enjoying my life a bit more off the golf course,” Thompson said on Wednesday of her limited early schedule. “I’ve taken the offseason, gotten to spend a lot of time with my family and friends, and I gave myself an extra month basically. I played in Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, and then played in Arizona, and just kind of spacing out my events, making sure I’m nice and healthy and not too tired for the events that I really want to play in and the golf courses that set up for my game.”

Over the last four months since playing in the season-ending CME Tour Championship, the 28-year-old Thompson has taken vacation time and allowed herself to wake up when she wants. She gained the prescriptive that her practice and playing schedule weighed on her enjoyment of golf as she entered her 13th season on tour.

The extended time away sets up a unique lead-in to th season’s first major. From 2017-2022 (excluding 2020 moving the Chevron to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic) Thompson averaged four starts before the various iteratoins of the Chevron.

“I think I’m just a lot more refreshed,” Thompson said. “I think I’m in a better mindset, more relaxed, just happier to be out here. Not saying that I wasn’t before, but just refreshed. I had the time off that I needed.”

Maybe the reset will serve as the elixir to Thompson’s crucible of major championships. Since her last major victory at the then-Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills in 2014, she’s had three runners-up and two heartbreaking finishes over the previous two years at the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, where Thompson had the lead in the final group during the back nine.

Unfortunately, the time away didn’t equate to Thompson arriving at Carlton Woods fully healthy. Her left wrist was taped, wrapping around her thumb and extending all the way to her elbow on the inside part of her arm. She explained she overworked herself practicing, noticing the pain last week.

“The last few days it’s kind of the hinging on the way back and the release on the way through, just kind of the pressure of putting my thumb on top of the club,” Thompson said. “But overall, it was better today, so hopefully it’ll just slowly go away.”

Working on her ball striking has been the other focus of her time away from the tour. The extra work spent on the range to prepare for the Chevron, Thompson suspects, is the likely culprit of the pain. The 11-time LPGA winner enters her 41st major start since her last title with uncertainty in what her game will bring.

“I just took the time off to make sure that I didn’t go and throw myself in a tournament when I was working on something in my swing,” Thompson said. “Of course, there are times where you’re, like, I have to test it and put it to the test, and that’s this week, so we’ll see.”

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