Lexi Thompson, 29, will retire from the LPGA Tour at the end of the 2024 season

Lexi Thompson announced Tuesday that this LPGA season will be her last as a full-time competitor.

The surprising announcement came on the eve of the US Women’s Open, where the one-time prodigy is now turning 18.th consecutive appearance.

“Golf has been my life since I was 5 years old. I haven’t known a very different life, but it’s been incredible,” Thompson said at a news conference at Lancaster Country Club. “This sport has taught me a lot and I have learned a lot along the way, I have built many friendships and relationships. “I’m looking forward to seeing what life has in store for me.”

Thompson, who will turn 30 next year, has been one of the stars of women’s football since she burst onto the scene as a tall, powerful and prodigiously talented teenager.

After turning professional in 2010, Thompson set what was then a record for the youngest winner of an LPGA event, when she captured the 2011 Navistar Classic at the age of 16. After the LPGA rewrote her age requirement rules to grant her full membership, she won three events over the next two years, including the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship (now called the Chevron Championship) for her only major title.

In total, Thompson has won 11 times on tour, although not since 2019.

“He’s had an incredible career,” said world No. 1 Nelly Korda, who has played on three Solheim Cup teams with Thompson. “It’s sad to see that she’s obviously leaving and won’t be here with us anymore, but she’s had an incredible career and I wish her the best in this new chapter of her life.”

Thompson, at 14th full season on tour, he said he had contemplated stepping away for the past few years, but it was never the right time. When asked why he had made the decision to retire now, he said there was no overriding factor, but simply where he is in his life and his career. He also didn’t rule out playing a limited number of events in the future, adding that he’s taking it “day by day at the moment.”

“There’s more to life than going to a tournament every week and doing the same workout every day,” he said. “There’s just more and I’m looking forward to experiencing it. I feel like I’m very happy with where my life is and where this decision will take me. “I’m looking forward to seeing what life has in store for me besides golf.”

As the next wave of players began to dominate the LPGA, Thompson became known as much for her close calls as she did for her bold, aggressive style of play. With eight top-3 finishes in majors in her career, she gave up leads in both the 2019 and 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, the latter after taking a five-shot lead on the back nine on Sunday. In 2017, while she was in position to win her second major championship, she was penalized four strokes for incorrectly replacing her ball on the green and ultimately lost in a playoff at Mission Hills. Later that year, she missed a 2-foot putt on the final green to lose the LPGA season-ending title.

A six-time Solheim Cup participant and two-time U.S. Olympian, Thompson remained a fixture in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings throughout the 2010s.

However, Thompson’s performance has declined in recent years and in 2023 she was in danger of losing her LPGA card ahead of a late-season rally. This year, he is ranked 64th in the season rankings and has missed four cuts in six starts while dealing with a lingering hand injury.

At one point during his retirement press conference, Thompson became emotional as he reflected on some of the challenges of his career.

“A lot of people don’t realize what we go through as professional athletes,” he said, wiping away tears. “I’ll be the last to say, throw me a pity party. That’s the last thing I want. We are doing what we love. We are doing our best every day. We are not perfect. We are humans. Words hurt. Sometimes it’s hard to overcome. But having people around you who love you and support you, that has been the most important thing for me. I may not have a great group of friends, but having the most important people around me has helped me get through some really tough times.

“A lot of people don’t know what we go through – the amount of training and hard work we go through is a lot. “We deserve a lot more credit than we get.”

Tired of the constant attention, scrutiny and pressure over the past decade, Thompson took a break from golf in 2018 and has prioritized her mental health in recent years. When she became the seventh woman to play in a PGA Tour event last fall, at the Shriners Children’s Open, Thompson, a popular figure on social media, said her lasting goal was to inspire girls.

“While these accomplishments are notable in themselves, Lexi’s impact extends far beyond the golf course,” said LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “She embodies the spirit and dedication of our founders: she always shows up and intentionally participates to help promote the growth and impact of the LPGA. She is loved by fans, she is constantly seen signing autographs and interacting with them no matter the outcome of that day. …Lexi’s extraordinary career and the way she has carried herself on and off the field have inspired countless girls around the world to pursue their goals with passion and perseverance.”