Ten years after pro debut, Lexi Thompson returns to ShopRite LPGA Classic with 11 victories and budding skin care line

4 years ago

Lexi Thompson made her professional debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic 10 years ago, roaring onto the tour – quite literally – in a Red Bull Racing show car. She was 15 years old, a rising 10th-grader with all the head-turning ingredients that point to stardom.

“I felt like I hit it pretty hard when I was younger,” said Brittany Lincicome, “but she was a whole ‘nother level of swinging hard.”

Thompson was asked that first week as a pro if there was a “Lexi line” of clothing in the works. That would be cool, she answered.

A decade later, on the heels of a switch in her management team to GSE Worldwide, Inc., Thompson, an 11-time winner on tour, announced the new “LEXI” brand, with projects that center around “LEXI Golf,” “LEXI Fitness” and “LEXI Skin.”

Her copper-based, anti-aging skin care is set to have a soft launch in December, with a full roll-out in the first quarter of 2021.

“I’m just very excited to have something other than golf,” said Thompson, “and something that I’m interested in and hopefully can help people’s skin, and my skin. The product is great. I’m already using it.”

Golf won’t last forever, Thompson notes, though she has been one of the most consistent players on tour, winning at least one time in each of the past seven seasons.

The 25-year-old’s lone victory in 2019 came at the Bay Course at Seaview, when she drained a 20-foot eagle putt on the final hole to clip Jeongeun Lee6 by one stroke. Thompson said she gets chills each time she watches the clip, including several viewings last night.

This week’s 120-player field will compete for $1.3 million over the course of four days. With no fans coming to the Jersey Shore and no pro-am, officials decided to expand the tournament to 72 holes for the first time since 1990. Additional past champions in the field include Annie Park (2018), Anna Nordqvist (2015, 2016), Stacy Lewis (2012, 2014), Brittany Lincicome (2011), Cristie Kerr (2004) and Angela Stanford (2003).

While Thompson has spent time in 2020 preparing for her future, she has also looked to the past to get back to the winner’s circle. A crash session with childhood instructor Jim McLean ahead of the ANA Inspiration sent Thompson back to what felt good as a swing-for-the-fences prodigy. They looked at old tape, as far back as elementary school, and returned to a familiar shot shape.

“I know I can aim up the right and draw it back,” she said. “That does wonders for my mind.”

Thompson saw immediate results, finishing two shots out of the playoff at the ANA Inspiration. She then withdrew from the next week’s event, the Cambia Portland Classic, due to smokey conditions from forest fires that reduced the event to 54 holes.

After two weeks of tournament prep in steamy Florida, she headed up the east coast early to take a Sunday spin around Aronimink ahead of next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Conditions were soft she said, and she hit driver on nearly every hole.

There’s no better marketing for Thompson’s upcoming launch, of course, than winning golf tournaments.

Kerr, 42, knows what it’s like to balance an off-course business with tour life. The 20-time winner on the LPGA and mother of two launched Kerr Cellars in 2013 in partnership with Helen Keplinger. Last month, Constellation Brands, Inc., announced that it had acquired a minority stake in Kerr Cellars’ super-luxury portfolio of Napa Valley and Sonoma County wines.

She’s also one of golf’s biggest philanthropists. Proceeds from her Curvature wine label go to breast cancer research. The Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, opened 10 years ago and treats women regardless of their ability to pay.

“The only advice I think I would give (Lexi),” said Kerr, “is just make sure whatever you do that has your name on it, make sure you have control of it.”

Thompson’s new agent, Brett Falkoff, also happens to work with Bryson DeChambeau. Earlier this week Thompson joined DeChambeau as a Bentley Ambassador, posing with her shiny new ride on Instagram.

The pair of power players have met on occasion at Cobra Puma shoots, and she watched DeChambeau’s recent thrashing at Winged foot with interest. That being said, she’ll stick to her one protein shake a day.

“I think we all don’t mind a little bit of extra distance,” said Thompson, smiling, “but I don’t want to put on 40 pounds.”