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BETHESDA, Md. – Lexi Thompson blistered a drive down the par-4 17th on Congressional’s Blue Course to the flat area, leaving herself 102 yards for the approach. She took an extra club – her 50-degree wedge – to control the spin and relied on the crowd’s reaction to tell her the rest.
The roar said it all.
The ball zipped back to the hole and dropped in for eagle, the highlight of her 5-under 67 in Round 2 of the KPMG Women’s PGA. Though the divot that she watched fly down her shirt on the par-5 16th, as if it were in slow motion, was pretty hard to forget, too.
— LPGA (@LPGA) June 24, 2022
Mimi would’ve loved today.
Thompson’s beloved grandmother, Dorothy Fischi – her biggest fan – died on May 23 of natural causes, the week before the U.S. Women’s Open, at the age of 92. When Thompson talks about how her mental approach to the game has changed over the course of this year, she’s talking about Mimi.
“She was my everything growing up,” said Thompson.
It was Mimi who often took Thompson and her brothers to the golf course. She was a staple at their tournaments and babysat often. Poached eggs on toast was Thompson’s favorite breakfast at Mimi’s house. She often sat on the floor as a kid to eat Oreos and milk, while Mimi sat behind her playing solitaire.
“Amazing memories,” said Thompson. “Those are the ones I’ll cherish.”
Dorothy Fischi had three children and worked for the New York Yankees for decades, selling tickets to spring training games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Son Jimmy was her caretaker in later years. Thompson described her grandmother as the life of the party, and said neighbors liked to come over for a drink and a chat in her carport. Kids loved to come swim in the pool. Mimi could often be found working on a crossword puzzle.
“She was a firecracker,” said Thompson. “She loved golf like no other.”
Thompson is notoriously a hard worker, but when Mimi’s health took a turn for the worse, Thompson rushed to her Plantation, Florida, home with her own mother Judy. Practice, even leading into the U.S. Women’s Open, could wait.
“Being by her bedside with my mom for the last week and a half, bathing her and cleaning her,” said Thompson as tears welled up in her eyes, “it was the most painful thing.”
Yet, in the midst of grief, a feeling of gratefulness emerged, along with a new perspective. Now in her 11th year on the LPGA, the 27-year-old has realized that being so hard on herself, particularly at the majors, wasn’t working.
“Growing up with two older brothers, playing older age divisions, I never dealt with just being average,” she said. “I never wanted to be, and I always wanted to be better each and every time I woke up and went to the golf course. I always had a mission in mind, which I still do.
“If I have a bad day, it’s not the end of the world. Still a blessing just to be even out here.”
Thompson owns 11 LPGA titles, including one major. But that major title came in 2014, and her last LPGA victory was three years ago at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
At 3 under for the tournament through two rounds, Thompson has her work cut out to catch a sizzling In Gee Chun, who shot a first-round 64.
Thompson can still hear Mimi say “Go get ’em!” before a big round.
“It just seems like yesterday she was at CME watching us in her little scooter,” said Thompson. “I know she’s with me.”