Lexi Thompson was the talk of the golf world earlier this year not for her dominating play, style, prodigious power or moxie, but because of a rules snafu that cost her a major championship on the LPGA Tour.
Now, Thompson is making news for winning and fighting through adversity. She's the top-ranked American player in the world and at the forefront of the discussion for the Tour's player of the year honor.
Thompson has put all the rules hullabaloo in the rearview mirror and pushed her seemingly limitless talent to the front, most recently on Saturday. She posted a four-stroke victory over former world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand in the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship in Indianapolis.
That win, in addition to her victory at the Kingsmill Championship and her unforgettable back-nine during her singles match in the Solheim Cup last month in Iowa make Thompson the favorite to win this week in France at The Evian Championship, the final of the LPGA Tour's five majors.
"My game is in a great spot," Thompson said. "I worked extremely hard in the offseason on improving on things like my short game, my chipping and putting, and I think that's showing up more every week.
"I just really wanted to play consistent golf and put myself in a position to win. I have done that a few times this year. I'm just trying to stay positive out on the golf course. It's been a great year, so I'm looking forward to finishing it off."
In April at the ANA Inspiration in Palm Springs, Thompson lost a playoff to So Yeon Ryu of South Korea after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation reported by a television viewer. Ryu is now the top-ranked women's player in the world with Thompson, up to No. 2 in the latest Rolex World Golf Rankings with the win in Indy, a close -- and motivated -- pursuer.
Thompson has never been one to follow where she stands in that pecking order, preferring instead to let her golf game decide such things.
"I actually don't follow rankings at all," Thompson said. "I just go out, tee it up, and try to do my best any time I play in a tournament, and wherever my ranking goes, it goes. I go into every event wanting to win. That's my No. 1 one goal any time I tee it up. We have one more major left in the year. My attitude doesn't really change going into a major or any other event."
On top of the rules snafu and its fallout, Thompson's mother Judy, who Lexi often calls her best friend, is battling uterine cancer. Judy Thompson, a breast cancer survivor, has been receiving treatment since the cancerous tumor was discovered in May and is doing well.
"It's definitely been a bit of an up-and-down year, but I've been playing some great golf," Thompson said. "I feel like the emotional stuff has definitely put a toll on me, but a lot better now knowing my mom is good and healthy, so that's been helping out a lot. I'm just trying to work on my game a lot."
Thompson gained a boost at the Solheim Cup with an inspired rally to halve her Sunday singles match against Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Thompson was 4 down at the turn but pulled even by shooting 8-under-par over the final seven holes.
Even for an accomplished player like Thompson with plenty of great rounds on her resume, it was a special comeback.
"I would say that round definitely gave me the confidence that I can make those birdies if I just let it go and fire at pins and just commit to my shots and don't doubt it," Thompson said. "Golf is a lot about confidence and just committing to yourself and believing in yourself, something I'm learning along the way."
The 22-year-old Thompson has been a force on golf since she was a pre-teen. As a 12-year-old in 2007, she became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open and in 2011, when she was 16, she petitioned and was granted membership on Tour by LPGA commissioner Mike Whan following her win at the 2011 Navistar Classic as a non-member.
Thompson has nine career wins on the LPGA Tour, one of them a major (the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship). She has earned $1,651,815 this season and $7,068,184 in her career, becoming just the 33rd player in LPGA history to earn at least $7 million.
In 17 events this season, Thompson has made 16 cuts and has eight top-10 finishes. She currently leads the Tour's Race to CME Globe standings, which determine the player of the year.
Her win Saturday made her the first American with two LPGA victories this year.