Lexi Thompson, Thanks to a Puppy’s Love, Caps a Hard Road Back With a Winsir

Lexi Thompson, Thanks to a Puppy’s Love, Caps a Hard Road Back With a Win
Lexi Thompson entered the Heavenly Puppies pet store in South Florida this summer, intending to volunteer to walk the dogs. She figured the animals would enjoy some fresh air, and she would enjoy a much-needed escape from her sometimes-suffocating position as the leading American in the women’s golf rankings.

As soon as Thompson, 23, slipped through the door, she noticed a puppy cuddled up on a ladybug plush toy. It was a divine sign: Thompson has a ladybug patch on her golf bag and wears ladybug earrings for good luck. She told her mother, Judy: “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t need to volunteer. I’m getting a dog.”

As Thompson returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship after a 14-month winless drought that included a one-month mental-health hiatus, Leo — a fluffy six-month-old, five-pound Havanese and miniature poodle mix — was by her side, playing an outsize role. He provided a welcome distraction between rounds of the L.P.G.A. season finale at Tiburon Golf Club, where Thompson shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to secure a four-stroke victory over Nelly Korda. It also extended her L.P.G.A. title streak to six consecutive years — the longest run among active players.

The win — Thompson’s 10th on the tour — provided redemption. Last year, she missed a 2-foot par putt on the final hole at Tiburon with the tournament title, the women’s world No. 1 ranking and Player of the Year honors on the line. Thompson still earned the season points title and the $1 million bonus that went with it, but she lost by one stroke to Ariya Jutanugarn for the tournament trophy.

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