LPGA's Lexi Thompson, 29, retiring from full-time golf

Lexi Thompson, one of the biggest stars in women's professional golf over the past 15 years, announced Tuesday that this will be her final season competing full time on the LPGA Tour.

"While it is never easy to say goodbye, it is indeed time," Thompson, 29, posted to Instagram. "At the end of 2024, I will be stepping away from a full professional golf schedule. I'm excited to enjoy the remainder of the year as there are still goals I want to accomplish.

"I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life. Time with family, friends, and my trusted companion Leo. I will always look for ways to contribute to the sport and inspire the next generation of golfers. And of course, I look forward to a little time for myself."

Thompson, a two-time Olympian and six-time competitor in the Solheim Cup, said she wasn't sure how much golf she would play in the future. She said Tuesday she'd been contemplating retirement for a few months.

"I'm taking it day by day right now," Thompson told reporters at the U.S. Women's Open. "I'm not going to say yes or no on how many events I'll play or if I do. I'm just going to take it day by day and see how I feel, especially going into next year, but I'm very content with this being my last full-time schedule year."

Thompson became emotional while explaining her decision Tuesday, saying mental health was a factor.

"I think we all have our struggles, especially out here," she said. "Unfortunately in golf you lose more than you win, so it's an ongoing battle to continue to put yourself out there in front of the cameras and continuing to work hard and maybe not seeing the results you want and getting criticized for it. So it's hard.

"I will say, yes, I've struggled with it -- I don't think there's somebody out here that hasn't. It's just a matter of how well you hide it, which is very sad."

Thompson, a onetime child prodigy, will be making her 18th straight start in the U.S. Women's Open. She was the youngest golfer to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open -- doing it as a 12-year-old at Pine Needles in 2007 -- and she made the cut in the major as a 14-year-old in 2009.

She also won the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship in 2008 and compiled a 4-0-1 record for the U.S. team at the Curtis Cup in 2010.

Thompson, from Coral Springs, Florida, turned pro in 2010 and captured the first of her 11 LPGA victories at the Navistar LPGA Classic in September 2011. A 15-time winner around the world, Thompson's lone major championship victory came at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

In her video "letter I wrote to the game of golf" that she posted to Instagram, Thompson described her relationship with the sport as "complicated at times."

She pulled out of the 2018 Women's British Open to "recharge her batteries" and focus on her life off the course. She has recently dealt with a lingering hand injury and missed the cut in four of her six starts this season. She is 64th in the tour's season-long points race.

"Although this has been an amazing journey, it hasn't always been an easy one," Thompson said in her video. "Since I was 12, as a golfer, my life has been a whirlwind of constant attention, scrutiny and pressure. The cameras are always on, capturing every swing and every moment on and off the golf course. Social media never sleeps, with comments and criticisms flooding in from around the world.

"It can be exhausting maintaining a smile on the outside while grappling with struggles on the inside. By opening up about my battles, I've been able to connect with others who feel isolated in their struggles, offering them a sense of community and understanding. Each time I share, it reinforces the message that it's OK to not be OK, and that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness."

Thompson spoke more about the loneliness she has experienced as a golfer while addressing reporters later Tuesday. She made a vague reference to Grayson Murray, who spoke openly about alcoholism and his struggles with depression and anxiety from life as a tour professional. Murray died by suicide on Saturday.

"Being out here can be a lot. It can be lonely," she said. "I just think -- especially with what's happened in golf, as of recent, too -- a lot of people don't realize a lot of what we go through as a professional athlete.

"We're doing what we love. We're trying the best every single day. You know, we're not perfect. We're humans. Words hurt. It's hard to overcome sometimes. ... I might not have a huge friend group, but to have the people that matter the most around me have gotten me through some really hard times."

LPGA star Nelly Korda was among many players who were surprised by Thompson's announcement.

"She's had such an amazing career," Korda said Tuesday. "I've gotten to be on the team with her a couple times representing our country. I think she does an amazing job for the Tour. She spends so much time going to each pro-am party. She really dedicated her time to growing the game.

"It's sad to see that she's obviously leaving and not going to be out here with us anymore, but she's had an amazing career, and I wish her the best in this new chapter of her life."

Thompson came painfully close to adding to her major total, finishing runner-up or third eight times in her 63 major starts. She had 19 top-10 finishes and 35 top 25s, including a tie for second in the 2022 Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Last season, Thompson became the seventh woman to compete on the PGA Tour at the Shriners Children's Open in Las Vegas. She posted a 2-under 69 in the second round to become the second woman to break 70 in a PGA Tour event. With a 36-hole total of even-par 142, Thompson nearly became the first woman in 80 years to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

"Lexi's impact extends far beyond the golf course," LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in a statement posted to X. "She embodies the spirit and dedication of our founders -- always showing up and engaging intentionally to help further the growth and impact of the LPGA. She is beloved by fans, consistently seen signing autographs and interacting with them no matter the result that day.

"... On behalf of the LPGA, I want to thank Lexi for her incredible contributions to our Tour and to women's golf. We wish her all the best in her next chapter, and we, along with the fans, look forward to watching her compete and celebrating her throughout the rest of the season."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.