Jul
5
2011
Lexi Thompson Gets Green Light to Earn LPGA Tour Card
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Thompson

Lexi Thompson, 16, will be allowed to compete at LPGA Q-school and become a member if she earns her card, according to Sean Martin’s report in Golfweek:

“I’m really happy about it,” Thompson told Golfweek. “I’m just going to try to do my best and see where it goes.”

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement to Golfweek: “The LPGA has previously granted players under the age of 18 the ability to compete in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament (Aree Song, Morgan Pressel, Jessica Korda). Lexi Thompson will also have that same opportunity – to earn her way to the LPGA Tour, or the LPGA Futures Tour, via the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, a three-stage, 13-round qualifying process.”

“This year, Lexi has seen some of the highs and lows experienced by a professional golfer – leading (the Avnet) after three rounds, then having a difficult final round on live television. The way she handled this proved to me, and ultimately to a lot of other people, that she’s as prepared as one can be to handle the rigors of being a true professional,” Kreusler (Lexi’s agent) told Golfweek. “Lexi came out of the (scoring) tent after shooting 78, gathered herself for a few minutes and gave a live interview to the Golf Channel, gave every other interview, signed every autograph, and, believe me, that poor girl was gutted. There are a lot of other world-class professional athletes that would not have handled this as well as Lexi did.”

As a non-member, Lexi is limited to six sponsor exemptions per year on the LPGA. She was the 54-hole leader at the Avnet Classic before shooting 78 in the final round. In the other two events she’s missed the cut while reportedly undergoing swing changes with instructor Jim McLean.

Thanks to placing tied for second and tenth last year at the Evian Masters and the US Women’s Open, respectively, Lexi had qualified for those events already. She’s competing at this week’s US Women’s Open at Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The first stage of LPGA qualifying school is set for July 26-29 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida, the same week as the Ricoh Women’s British Open. While the top 100 as of July 12 are exempt from the first stage, Lexi is currently ranked No. 120 in the world. However, if she finishes well at Broadmoor, she could move up in the rankings, which would allow her to compete in the British.

Last year the Thompsons petitioned the LPGA to increase the limit of sponsor exemptions from six to 12. The request was denied, but eventually the tour compromised by opening its Monday qualifiers to non-members.