Golf spotlight: Coral Springs’ Lexi Thompson delights in latest LPGA victory, eyes Olympics

Lexi Thompson of the United States arrives for the winner's event for the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.
Lexi Thompson of the United States arrives for the winner's event for the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. AP

In her long and illustrious golf career, Lexi Thompson — the always-has-been and always-will-be South Floridian from Coral Springs — has won six LPGA tournaments, including a major.

That certainly is a career’s worth of victories and accomplishments.

Nice career, Lexi.

However, we might be misleading you just a bit.

When we say career, yes, it seems exactly like that — a body of work over a long time period. However, Lexi’s pro career spans just more than five years at this point.

And, in reality, her career is just beginning — she is only 20 years old. That’s difficult to believe since it seems as though she has been around forever.

Her latest accomplishment came last weekend, far, far away from Coral Springs, as she won the LPGA KEG Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, South Korea, finishing one stroke ahead of Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park.

Thompson brought a red, white and blue outlook with her to South Korea, saying after her victory that there would be nothing better in her future than to compete for the U.S. team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

“I’m just hoping that I get to be on the U.S. team,” she said. “There’s no higher honor than playing for your country. Put red, white and blue on, there’s nothing like it. Any time I have a team event in that year, that’s my No. 1 goal — to be in that tournament, to be on the team.

“There’s nothing like being able to say you are an Olympian. If I do reach that goal, be able to play there, I’m just going to go out there and fight for my country.”

Her odds of playing in the Olympics appear more than good after Sunday’s official LPGA victory in South Korea moved Thompson up to the No. 4 ranking in the world.

Her career earnings have already reached $4,389,730, with $1,625,836 coming this year. Already, she has 31 top-10 LPGA finishes to her credit.

Between now and her probable Olympic appearance next August, Thompson should have some time to smack the golf ball around with her two brothers, Nick and Curtis, both accomplished professional golfers.

Asked how she fares in family competition, which usually takes place near home in Coral Springs, Thompson said, “I’m going to say that who probably wins the most is … Curtis. He shoots some crazy low numbers, so he definitely comes out on top most of the time, once we all finish.”

Then, she added with a smile: “If not one of us quits before.”

Of her success in golf, Thompson said: “Sometimes I have to realize how much I’ve accomplished and sometimes I have to let it hit me and absorb.

“This has been a dream come true, obviously, just turning professional and playing against the best in the world. But to get the wins that I have and to get the major championship [2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship] under my belt, it was a dream come true.”

Then, she concluded:

“Every win is an unbelievable feeling. Just to have all the hard work pay off, it means a lot to any athlete just to know of the hard work, dedication, the sweat, the pain, the ups and downs, it’s well worth everything.”

▪ Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables, all spiffed up and looking better than ever, will re-open for play on Nov. 6. Politicians might be suspect at hitting a golf ball, but they are well-versed in cutting a ribbon. The Coral Gables mayor and commissioners will be on hand at the course opening to do just that.

Famous golf pro and teacher Bob Toski and PGA professional Erik Compton of Miami are also tentatively scheduled to attend.