Read Between the Lines: Lexi Thompson Withdraws From 2nd Stage of Q-School (*Update)
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Lexi celebrates in the big city

Lexi Thompson has withdrawn from next week’s second stage of LPGA Q-school, but no deal has been struck between her camp and the LPGA, according to her agent via Golfweek‘s report.

16-year-old Thompson became the youngest winner by nearly two years in the 61-year history of the LPGA at the Navistar LPGA Classic this past Sunday. Normally, a win would automatically grant her tour membership for 2012, but since Lexi doesn’t meet the 18-year-old age requirement, she needed to petition for a waiver, which was already passed for Q-school.

In the wake of Lexi’s win, Commissioner Mike Whan issued a statement, making it sound like Lexi had to endure the final two qualifying stages of Q-school — she won the first stage by 10 shots in July. Naturally, that generated quite an uproar among the media (present company included), fans and even players.

I think Whan was only trying to do the right thing and didn’t want to set a precedent for teens turning pro (which I stand by, too), but it was handled poorly from a PR standpoint. Now, of course, the Solheim Cup is being contested in Ireland this week and the LPGA doesn’t want to draw attention away from the important matches.

Via the Golfweek report:

Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, said he spoke with commissioner Mike Whan on Sunday but would not file a petition until after this week’s Solheim Cup.

“This is a time for Lexi to enjoy and relish her victory and enjoy New York,” Kreusler said from New York, where Thompson was on a media tour. “It’s the week of the Solheim Cup, and the focus should be on that. Mike and I will have conversations when he returns (from Ireland). I need to file a petition; I have not. Lexi certainly will not be at second stage, but not based on anything I’ve been told. Mike and I have always had very honest, very straightforward and productive dialogue. I believe ultimately Mike and I will be able to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.”

If Lexi has withdrawn from the second stage of Q-school, I think it’s safe to assume the LPGA has given the Thompsons indication that her petition will be passed, but all parties have agreed that out of respect for the Solheim Cup, the formal decision and announcement of Lexi’s membership, including any details, will be made next week.

Fair enough.

I don’t believe there was much doubt that the LPGA would pass the petition to waive the age requirement for membership after her big victory. Now that she’s won, there’s no doubt she belongs on the LPGA — no one can question the hype since she’s proven herself to some degree. Plus, she’s endured failure — when she shot 78 in the final round of the Avnet LPGA Classic in May after sharing the 54-hole lead — and then bounced back four months later and won the next time she was in that situation. To me, that shows maturity and talent beyond her years.

And if she’s already playing, why continue to fight it?

I respect Whan for taking a strong stance on the teen phenom issue and not wanting to exploit young girls, but there are always exceptions to the norm, and I think LPGA officials have agreed that’s the case with Lexi.

After all, Lexi might just be the key to drawing sponsors and reviving the tour, which only has 23 events on the 2011 schedule, the lowest since 1971.

*Update, 9/21, 12:15pm: Lexi hasn’t officially withdrawn from the second stage of Q-school. She’s won’t be there, though, according to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Jeff Shain, who spoke to Kreusler.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)