BETHESDA, Md. – Lexi Thompson hit a drive along the par-4 17th on Congressional’s Blue Course to the flat area, leaving himself 100 yards for the approach. She took an extra bat—her 50-degree wedge—to keep the spin in check, and relied on the audience’s response to tell her the rest.
The roar said it all.
The ball rushed back to the hole and fell in for eagle, the culmination of her 5-under 67 in round 2 of the KPMG Women’s PGA. Although the divot she saw flying over her shirt on the par-5 16th, as if in slow motion, was also hard to forget.
Mimi would have loved it today.
Thompson’s beloved grandmother, Dorothy Fischi — her biggest fan — died of natural causes on May 23, the week before the US Women’s Open, at the age of 92. When Thompson talks about her mental approach to the game over the course of this year, she talks about Mimi.
“She was my everything growing up,” Thompson said.
It was Mimi who often took Thompson and her brothers to the golf course. She was a staple at their tournaments and often babysat. Poached eggs on toast was Thompson’s favorite breakfast at Mimi’s house. As a child, she often sat on the floor eating Oreos and milk while Mimi played behind her solitaire.
“Great memories,” Thompson said. “Those are the ones I will cherish.”
Dorothy Fischi had three children and worked for decades for the New York Yankees, selling tickets to spring training sessions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Son Jimmy was her caretaker in later years. Thompson described her grandmother as the party buzz and said neighbors liked to stop by for a drink and a chat in her carport. Kids loved coming to swim in the pool. Mimi could often be found working on a crossword puzzle.
“She was a blast,” Thompson said. “She loved golf like no other.”
Thompson is known to be a hard worker, but when Mimi’s health deteriorated, Thompson rushed to her home in Plantation, Florida, with her own mother Judy. The training, which even led to the US Women’s Open, could wait.
“For the past week and a half, lying by my mother’s bedside, washing and cleaning her,” Thompson said, tears welling up in her eyes, “was the most painful thing there was.”
But in the midst of grief, a sense of gratitude emerged, along with a new perspective. Now in her 11th year with the LPGA, the 27-year-old realized that being so hard on herself, especially in the majors, wasn’t working.
“Growing up with two older brothers, playing in the older age brackets, I never had to deal with just being average,” she said. “I never wanted to be, and I always wanted to get better every time I woke up and went to the golf course. I always had a mission in mind, and I still do.
“If I have a bad day, it’s not the end of the world. It’s still a blessing to be right here.”
Thompson owns 11 LPGA titles, including one major. But that big title came in 2014, and her last LPGA win was at the ShopRite LPGA Classic three years ago.
At 3 under for the tournament over two rounds, Thompson must do her job to catch a blistering In Gee Chun, who shot a first round of 64.
Thompson can still hear Mimi say, “Go get them!” for a big round.
“It seems like just yesterday she was sitting at CME watching us on her little scooter,” Thompson said. “I know she’s with me.”