No, Lexi Thompson isn't the slightest bit worried about the building pressure to be a sweet 16, blonde-haired, blue-eyed savior for a struggling LPGA tour that this year will stage only 13 domestic tournaments, down from 24 in 2008. "I don't read anything that's written about me," Thompson says. "It's not very interesting." She's not concerned about managing her finances, even with a burgeoning endorsement portfolio and a $195,000 check from September's Navistar Classic, at which she became the youngest winner in LPGA history in only her 13th tour start. "I asked my dad about the stock market once, and he went on and on forever, and I was like, O.K., that's the last time I ask about that," Lexi says with a girlish giggle. "I do know that when the market goes down, that's bad."
When Thompson tees it up at this week's LPGA Titleholders, her first appearance since the overpowering, game-changing five-stroke victory at the Navistar, she will be the center of the golfing universe, but her biggest concern these days is much more personal. "Hopefully someone will take me to the prom this year," she says winsomely.
"But all the boys are afraid to ask her," interjects her mom, Judy. "I think they're intimidated."
And why is that?
"I guess because of the whole golf thing," Lexi says. "Or maybe because I'm kind of tall."
How tall, exactly?
"She'll tell you she's 5'11"," says Thompson's agent, Bobby Kreusler, "but she's taller than that. She doesn't want that out there." Particularly to gangly teenaged boys who lack Thompson's self-confidence. Or height.
Welcome to Lexi's world, wherein our plucky heroine tries to maximize her superstar talent while remaining something like a typical teenager. That she is fretting about the prom is particularly poignant because Thompson doesn't go to high school. She attended public schools until 2007, which was the year she became, at age 12, the youngest competitor in history to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. Thompson simply got tired of sitting in a classroom while the sun was shining and she could be out hitting golf balls, so for the last four years she has been homeschooled, playing golf by day and studying by night at the family home off the 12th hole of the TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. She maintains a fairly active social life, including attending sporting events at the various high schools where her friends study. Alas, as of yet there have been no prom offers.
It's not easy maintaining normalcy as a member of golf's most extraordinary family. Thompson's brother Nicholas, 28, has been a pro for six years, collecting nine top 10 finishes and more than $3 million on the PGA Tour. He is a self-made ball-striking whiz whose putting can be so shaky that he's now laboring on the developmental Nationwide tour. Curtis, 18, is a freshman at LSU and has already become a mainstay for the golf team. He is a polished, old-school shaper of shots with a silky touch on and around the greens. "It doesn't matter how many trophies Lexi wins, Curtis will always be the most talented player in the family," says Nicholas, who is trying to get back to the PGA Tour by way of this fall's Q school. "Talent isn't something that can be taught. You're born with it, and both of them are blessed with an abundance."
The Thompson kids grew up at Eagle Trace, playing together nearly every day, always under the watchful gaze of their father, Scott, who was the co-owner of a business that made transformers until he left the company in 2007. (Judy still puts in long hours as the office manager of a dental practice.) By 11, Lexi was playing from the 6,655-yard blue tees, and by 14 her brothers made her join them on the 7,040-yard golds. They treated her as one of the guys, which is to say, rudely. Much as the pint-sized Tiger Woods had to ignore the tees his father would fling at him midswing, Lexi learned to block out the distractions of her brothers' knocking over her bag or pumping a noisy golf cart brake pedal while she was standing over the ball. "People say I'm a fast player," she says. "That's probably because I grew up trying to hit before my brothers could bother me."