16-year-old Lexi Thompson, who wowed the world two weeks ago with her five-shot victory at the LPGA Navistar Classic, will become an LPGA member in 2012. Commissioner Mike Whan passed Thompson’s petition to waive the 18-year-old age requirement on Friday, a day after it was formally filed, according to the AP.
“I’ve seen her at press conferences,” Whan said. I’ve seen her when she played well, I’ve seen her when she hasn’t played too well. I’ve seen her at pro-am parties. I’ve seen her when fans are coming up to her when it’s maybe not the best time.”
Thompson filed a formal petition Thursday that the LPGA waive its policy of members being at least 18. Whan approved it one day later, although he described that more as a formality. The bigger decision came in June, when he allowed Thompson to compete in qualifying school.
Thompson withdrew from the second stage before filing her petition. By then, it was clear to everyone — from Thompson to the LPGA Tour — that she would be on tour in 2012.
“I always said if she’s good enough, she’ll join us next year,” Whan said of his decision to allow Thompson to go through qualifying. “She just sped up the Q-school process by winning a tournament.”
Thompson was on vacation in California when she got the news.
“It’s been amazing,” she said in a conference call. “It’s always been my dream to play on the tour full time. Getting that win, it was the best experience of my life. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment, knowing I’m going to play full time next year,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Don’t get any ideas, parents of pre-teen golf prodigies. Whan isn’t concerned with setting a precedent.
“I don’t want young players who are freshmen and sophomores in high school contemplating whether to turn pro. I’ve said ‘no’ maybe 50 times and said ‘yes’ once,” Whan said, skewing the numbers for emphasis.
I agree with Whan’s principles of not wanting to make it easy for teens to get past the must-be-18 rule. I’ve seen people tweet that “kids don’t win LPGA tournaments” several times, so my apologies for not crediting the correct person, but it’s true — well, she’s still only 16, but she’s proven that she’s a professional and belongs on tour.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin)