Golf: Lexi inspired by mother's fight

Lexi Thompson teeing off at the 16th hole during the opening round of the Women's PGA Championship. She mixed three birdies with two bogeys in her first round for a one-under 70.
Lexi Thompson teeing off at the 16th hole during the opening round of the Women's PGA Championship. She mixed three birdies with two bogeys in her first round for a one-under 70.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

She addresses mum's battle against cancer after bid for 2nd Major title begins with a 70

OLYMPIA FIELDS (Illinois) • It has been a taxing year on and off the golf course for Lexi Thompson, but the American has said that her mother has been her inspiration to fight through every obstacle that comes her way.

The Florida native spoke for the first time about her mother Judy's recent uterine cancer diagnosis at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Thursday.

"It's been rough," the 22-year-old said after her first round.

"I've known (the diagnosis) for a few weeks. She's my best friend. So hearing that, and just dealing with a lot of things this year, it was kind of like a breakdown moment for me.

"My mum has always been, no matter what she's going through, the biggest fighter. She's a role model of mine. I always aspire to be half the woman that she is.

"She just says, 'No matter what, I love you. Just go out, do your best, that's all you can do.' That's her message every week, and that's why I absolutely love her."

Judy was diagnosed with uterine cancer in May before she had surgery to remove a tumour early last month. She underwent radiation therapy last week in Coral Springs, Florida, where Thompson held her hands throughout the session, according to the player's agent, Bobby Kreusler.

STAY THE COURSE

Golf has kind of been my outlet, to just go out and play and get my mind off things. Sometimes golf brings more struggles to my mind. But it's been okay.

LEXI THOMPSON, world No. 4 golfer, on coping with tough times on and off the course.

Thompson, an eight-time LPGA Tour winner, added that Judy had also been through a battle with breast cancer about 10 years ago.

"I remember when she got diagnosed with breast cancer and luckily they caught it pretty early when it was a small size," she said.

"That was a challenging time for me when I was younger. She's about an eight-or-10-year survivor. Just to see how much she's fighting, it's inspirational."

Thompson carded a one-under 70 at Olympia Fields on Thursday, four strokes behind provisional leaders Chella Choi (66) and Amy Yang. Yang was five-under through 17 holes before lightning prompted a suspension to the opening round.

Choi said: "I hit really good tee shots. I had a lot of chance in the fairway. My putting is there, so I made a lot of birdies."

In April, Thompson had appeared set to win her second Major title at the ANA Inspiration before a television viewer using slow-motion replay discovered a violation in the third round. That resulted in a day-late application of a four-stroke punishment that led to her eventual loss in a play-off to current world No. 1 Ryu So Yeon.

She rebounded from that setback, however, securing victory at the Kingsmill Championship in May with Judy watching her.

It was during the tournament that Judy first experienced symptoms before she flew home to Florida to have a biopsy that revealed she had cancer.

Despite all that, world No. 4 Thompson said that golf has helped her through the tough times.

She noted: "Golf has kind of been my outlet, to just go out and play and get my mind off things. Sometimes golf brings more struggles to my mind. But it's been okay.

"I've been practising really hard when I do go home, but just trying to spend as much time with my mum and my family, and just trying to balance out everything. Just trying to stay happy."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'Lexi inspired by mother's fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe