Lexi Thompson to Petition for Age Exemption, Join LPGA at 16

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So, have you heard of Lexi Thompson?  If you haven’t, you must be living under a rock.  Or you’re not a golfer.  Or both.

Lexi Thompson is the 16-year old golfer who made headlines over the weekend when she won the Navistar LPGA Classic by 5 strokes and became the youngest tournament winner in LPGA history.

Thompson went pro about 15 months ago and has already racked up a whopping $500,000+ in prize money.  At 16.  Honestly, how many Justin Bieber posters can one girl buy?  That’s probably more money than I’ve seen in  my entire working career.  Sigh.

Lexi comes from a family of golfers.  Her oldest brother,  Nicholas, has played in the PGA and Nationwide Tours.  Curtis, 2 years her senior, plays on a scholarship at Louisiana State.  They’re like the Partridge Family of the golf world.  Her dad, Steve, is her caddie and he cried at her victory, although he tried to hide it from her so she wouldn’t consider him embarrassing as most teens would.

She petitioned and gained entrance to qualifying school, winning the first round by 10 strokes.  But this was in July before her big win at Navistar.  Now she plans to petition LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan for exemption from the 18-year-old age limit imposed by the tour.  And if you think the dripping sarcasm in story is amusing, listen to this.  Whan says that he’ll “consider” her petition.  She beat out every other player on the field at 16-years old and he’s only going to consider allowing her to join the ranks of the LPGA.  If you’re over the age of 16 and you win a tournament, you’re automatically allowed onto the Tour, but she can’t because she’s too young?  Really?  Two years early is too early? Even after she beat a group of players who have years of experience on her? She qualified in for the U.S. Open at the age of 12.  She was runner-up in the Evian Masters last year.  She has repeatedly professed her affection for the game and knows that this is what she plans on doing with her life.  If you’re winning professional tournaments at 16, it’s not likely that the desire to play is going to die in the next two years.  Can someone explain to me why it’s a big deal to let the girl play in the LPGA?  Surely Whan won’t allow ridiculous politics and ill-fitting rules keep her off the tour for another 2 years.

Even veteran Juli Inkster believes she ready for the LPGA professionally and socially.  “It’s kind of silly, isn’t it?” Inkster commented to members of the AP.  “I think it makes us look bad, too.  Now you have to go to qualifying school, too?  To me, that’s silly.”

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