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Lexi Thompson dishes on Solheim Cup leadership role, puts 2023 struggles in the past

CASERAS, Spain — When United States Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis made her picks for this week’s event at Finca Cortesin she didn’t shy away from addressing automatic qualifier Lexi Thompson’s struggles this season.

“There are definitely some concerns about her game, a hundred percent,” said Lewis last month. “Talking to her, though, she’s been handling all of this remarkably well. I’ve said it before, but you see her off the golf course and you would never know that she’s struggling like she is right now.”

By Thompson’s lofty standards, struggling is an understatement. Over 11 starts this season on the LPGA the 28-year-old has missed eight cuts, with three finishes of T-31, T-47 and most recently T-19 at the Kroger Queen City Championship earlier this month, where she was coming off a streak of five missed cuts. Thompson qualified for her sixth Solheim Cup, this time off her world ranking, and will be the most-tenured player for Team USA this week at the beautiful Finca Cortesin on Spain’s southern coast. After making her debut as an 18-year-old in 2013, Thompson has earned a 6-6-7 record (1-1-3 in singles).

“She is not going to quit and she is not going to give up on the golf course, and sometimes I think that’s the most important thing in Solheim Cups and team events,” added Lewis.

“Might not have been the year that I wanted, but this is this week I’m not focusing on the past,” said Thompson during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m here with my team this week and going to represent my best.”

“It’s like Justin Thomas said, any shot, any moment can change your game,” chimed in Danielle Kang, who has her own personal struggles this week.  “Can’t rely on an entire player’s career on just how she’s been playing lately, right?”

MORE SOLHEIM: Photos | Meet Team USA | Check out Finca Cortesin

Kang will make her fourth appearance for the Red, White and Blue this week, an honor she cherishes every two years when the event is hosted. Thompson agreed and noted how her No. 1 goal is to make the team. Lewis is going to rely on their passion and leadership this week as the American team rolls out five rookies to make their debut.

“I didn’t even know we had that many rookies,” admitted Kang. “Throughout the entire year for two years everyone plays their own game and competes against each other, competes against the field, but rookies or veterans or not, I think our team is really strong and they have been playing really great golf.”

Lilia Vu won two majors this season at the Chevron Championship and AIG Women’s Open. Allisen Corpuz claimed the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open. Andrea Lee won last year, Cheyenne Knight is a two-time winner on tour, and 20-year-old Rose Zhang won her professional debut earlier this year.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a rookie or a third time on Solheim Cup,” said Kang, “they all act like their own leaders and they know how to approach their own games, and I think it’s very inspiring to see, no matter who it may be.”

“I believe that we’re all leaders in our own way,” echoed Thompson. “We come into this week and we bring a strength of ours to the whole team and the captains and assistant captains. It’s not somebody overpowering the other. It’s all about just coming together as a team.”

Modest and supportive of her teammates she may be, Thompson will be heavily relied upon this week in Spain. The stroke play form hasn’t been there this year, but the Solheim Cup poses a different question compared to weekly LPGA stops and it’s one she’s answered correctly in the past. The 11-time winner has been undefeated in two different Solheim Cups (while playing at least four matches) with a 2-0-2 showing in both 2015 and 2017.

As an amateur for Team USA, Thompson was undefeated for three consecutive years: 3-0-1 at the 2010 Curtis Cup and 3-0-0 at both the 2009 Junior Solheim Cup and 2008 Junior Ryder Cup.

This week she has another chance to do what she does best: score points for Team USA.

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