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Lexi Thompson makes tearful exit from U.S. Women's Open

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Lexi Thompson stood off to the side of the ninth green after hitting what could be her final stroke — a 3-inch bogey putt — in the U.S. Women's Open. It was just like any other round until she headed toward the scoring room.

“We'll miss you, Lexi,” one fan yelled above the applause.

This isn't the way she wanted to leave — a 78 in the opening round Thursday, four straight bogeys around the turn Friday that doomed any hopes of making the cut and a 75 for a 13-over-par total.

And there was part of her that wishes she didn't talk again about her announcement earlier in the week that at age 29, this would be her last year of a full schedule.

Thompson made her Women's Open debut at age 12 in 2007 at Pine Needles. That led to one question about what she would tell her 12-year-old self.

“I would say probably just enjoy life,” she said as emotion started to creep into her voice. “Just be grateful for everything that you have in your life. Enjoy every experience that you get to make just being out here.”

Moments later, she stopped in the middle of a sentence as her voice choked, turned to the moderator and whispered in a harsh tone, “I knew I shouldn't have done this.”

She was handed a box of tissue and fought that off.

“It was going to be a big week. Just to have my family and friends and the amount of fans that were out there this week, that's what we want,” she said. “That's what we want for the game of golf to wrong. Each and every tournament, I hope it continues to do so, whether I'm teeing it up or not.”

Even as she spoke of being content about her decision to step away, it wasn't clear what Thompson had in mind. She still plans to play the rest of the year. Her biggest hope is to be part of a seventh Solheim Cup team this fall.

As for the U.S. Women's Open, barring a stronger performance — Thompson has gone nearly five years without winning — she would not be exempt next year.

The USGA could offer a special exemption, but it has limited those mainly to past champions in the last two decades barring a special achievement, such as Rose Zhang a year ago or Michelle Wie in 2006 before she joined the LPGA Tour and had finished in the top five at two majors.

“As far as like after this year goes, I have no plans right now,” she said.

But Thompson said she would get home and grind hard in her practice session for a three-week stretch that includes the next major, the KPMG Women's PGA at Sahalee.

Her world ranking is down to No. 54.

Asked what she would not miss about a full schedule, Thompson smiled and said waking up at 5:30 a.m. after finishing at 8:30 p.m. the night before, such as what she faced Friday.

“I'll miss the competitiveness of just being out here and all the friendships that I’ve made along the way,” she said. "What I won’t miss is being able to sleep in and not having to rush to the golf course for a tee time and just having that every single day of my life.

“It’s nice to have a balance,” she said. “But I’ve loved it, every single bit of the way. It’s been harder times than others, but this is all I’ve known.”

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