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Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Updated: December 26, 11:54 AM ET
Lexi Thompson is NEXT

By Scott T. Miller
ESPN The Magazine

Lexi Thompson
The 17-year-old was second on the LPGA tour with an average of 272 yards on her drives in 2012.

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EVERY TIME Lexi Thompson stepped up to a shot on the first hole at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open, something would go wrong. A wayward drive. A misread putt. Thompson played the hole five over par for the week -- three bogeys and a double. But a funny thing happened: Every day Thompson would turn it around. By the time she got to Oakmont's 260-yard 17th, a drivable par 4, on Sunday, a top-10 finish was within reach. Screw playing it safe, Lexi decided; she pulled a 3-wood. In that swing, her coach, Jim McLean, saw everything that makes Thompson golf's next big star: the chops to attempt the shot and the raw ability to pull it off. Thompson birdied the hole and finished in a tie for 10th. She was 15 years old.

When she walks on the range, she has a presence. You could see it when she was 14. She gets your attention.

-- Lexi's coach

After successfully lobbying the LPGA to waive its age minimum of 18, Thompson played her first event as an official tour pro the weekend of her 17th birthday. Last year alone, she compiled four top-10s on the tour.

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