People talk about how the PGA Tour is becoming a haven for bigger, stronger athletes who hit the ball miles and can still short game it, but Lexi Thompson is a great example of the same phenomenon on the LPGA Tour. While recently the Korean women have dominated the sport with accuracy and technique, players like Lexi and Suzanne Pettersen are showing how the power game can win big as well. At 5’8” and 150 pounds Pettersen is solid and extra strong, but she isn’t nearly the size of Thompson, who comes in at 6 feet tall and probably in the 160 or more pound range (no weight is listed for her). Compared to most of the LPGA players Thompson is like the long drive guys versus the rest of the PGA Tour in that they are far bigger and stronger than anyone making a living keeping score as opposed to hitting the ball as far as possible.
Lexi’s technique, as always, is the subject of the swing analysis, and what we see here is a fairly classic backswing that turns into a quite interesting and idiosyncratic downswing and follow- through, somewhat reminiscent of Rickie Fowler’s down the line “chase” move through impact. Lexi turns her upper trunk a huge amount against a relatively quiet lower body, with her right arm fully behind her head at the top of the swing. She compounds her right arm issues by dropping the hands backwards behind her body starting down, and it is her fast and aggressive rotation that saves her by pulling hard enough to get the club back out in front of her so that the shaft is not “stuck” behind her. It is not enough, however, to keep her right arm from approaching from well behind her right side, and when the left knee snaps dead straight before impact (see Michelle Wie) the result is a release that flings out to the right and hips that not only “stall” but go into complete reverse as the lower body runs out of rotation and waits for the upper trunk to catch up so that everything can move around together. I find this technique highly complex in the impact area and perhaps even prone to injury as the lower body is eventually jerked around by the rotation of the upper, not exactly a picture of uniform movement of the spine and the muscles surrounding it. The resulting release looks a lot like a “steer” to me, and I would like to see the swing more in front of the body with the right arm from the top and releasing more to the left. However, she is quite young, and certainly odd techniques have been quite successful in both men’s and women’s golf (see Nancy Lopez), so we will just have to wait and see how it goes.