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Lexi Thompson still a kid but maturing as a pro

Lexi Thompson follows through on her tee shot

Lexi Thompson follows through on her tee shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship golf tournament. (June 29, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

KOHLER, Wis. -- Lexi Thompson is a quick study. This report is backed up not only by golf enthusiasts, who know she won two pro tour events last year, when she was 16. Physical proof comes from Florida Virtual School, which recently issued a high school diploma to her a year ahead of schedule.

"I got straight A's for pretty much my whole schooling," said the Coral Springs resident, who now is a full member of the LPGA Tour and the standard-bearer for the boom in youth golf. From all reports, she is a well-adjusted teenager (two brothers do not treat her like a star, to say the least) and pro. That is, she is pleased with her two-pronged education, on the course and online.

"You do the lessons and you call the teachers," she said. "So you're talking to them anyway."

Now she would like to become a major champion, which might take American women's golf and youth golf to entirely new levels. At 17, why wait?

Former U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr said, "I played a lot of golf in South Florida with Lexi. I asked her, 'How many Opens is this for you?' She said, 'Five.' She's been playing since she was 12 and she's a seasoned veteran at 17."

Thompson learned in a hurry to get over the nerves she felt over the first tee shot at the Open five years ago. "I'm just playing the game that I love and I'm just doing what I love," she said, adding that she played an Open practice round with two 14-year-old participants.

"I still like PetSmart," said Thompson, owner of two top-10 LPGA finishes this year. "I'm still a little kid inside. You still have to have fun off the golf course, and on it."

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