The US Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster has offered her full support to Lexi Thompson at the end of what has been another difficult season for the 23-year-old American star.
Speaking to bunkered.co.uk at Gleneagles this morning - which will play host to the 16th Solheim Cup next September - Inkster revealed that she has been in regular contact with Thompson, who, in July, announced she was taking a break from golf to “recharge” her “mental batteries”.
In a statement at the time, Thompson said: “The events of the past year and a half (on and off the golf course) have taken a tremendous toll on me both mentally and emotionally. I have not truly felt like myself for quite some time.”
In March 2017, Thompson found herself at the centre of a rules scandal that cost her victory in the opening major of the season, the ANA Inspiration. At the opposite end of the season, she missed a short putt to win the CME Group Tour Championship.
Off the course, in was revealed in June 2017 that Thompson’s mother, Judy, had been diagnosed with uterine cancer, for which she has been undergoing treatment.
Lexi has since returned to the LPGA but has struggled for consistency, missing the cut in two of her last five events. She missed just one cut in the whole of 2017.
Inkster completely sympathises with what the nine-time major winner has been going through.
“I’ve talked to Lexi quite a bit,” she revealed. “There’s a lot of pressure on her and there has been since she was quite young. Especially when you’re a girl, between 15 and 20, you’re trying to find out who you are and to do that when you’re in the limelight is a lot tougher.
“She’s played a lot of competitive golf and I think sometimes you just reach a point where enough’s enough.
“I think, you know, her mom having cancer and the rulings, I think she just needed to get away from it. She’s got a passion for working out and she’s trying to get back to enjoying the game again.
“I think she’s just trying to figure out ‘what does Lexi Thompson want to do?’
“This game’s tough and if you’re not enjoying it, it’s even tougher. I think this off-season will be really good for her, to just get away and recharge her batteries.
“She’s got to get back to finding out what’s good for Lexi Thompson.”
Thompson has become one of the cornerstones of the US Solheim Cup team since making her debut in the match in 2013 and, whilst she would love to have her in her team for next year’s visit to Scotland, Inkster won’t be putting any extra pressure on her.
“Lexi’s a really good team player, she loves the Solheim, she’s so talented, and she’ll do anything to be there but I just want what’s best for her,” she added.