by Jeff Skinner
So when the biggest draw in women’s golf and the number one player in the world both miss the cut at the Avnet LPGA Classic the LPGA brass had to be disappointed. But who would have thought that without Michelle Wie or Yani Tseng left on the weekend that this tournament might garner some of the biggest headlines of the LPGA season.
Sixteen year old Lexi Thompson is poised to make history in women’s professional golf. Thompson, who turned sixteen in February, shares the lead with Song-Hee Kim and would be the youngest winner in LPGA history if she can win today. Thompson isn’t a member of the LPGA as they have a minimum age of eighteen for membership but she is playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. The youngest ever to win a LPGA event was Marlene Hagge at 18 years, 14 days in 1952. But that was only a one day event. The youngest ever to win a multiple day event was Paula Creamer in 2005 when she was 18 years, 9 months and 17 days. If Thompson can manage to win today she would destroy that record by two years.
Lexi Thompson is fully capable of playing and winning on this tour. So far this week she is averaging 267 yards in driving distance, has hit 76% of her fairways and only used 26 putts during her stellar 67 in the third round.
Thompson is no stranger to the spotlight as she debuted in the U.S. Women’s Open at age twelve and played to a 5-0 record in last year’s Curtis Cup. And yes, her older brother Nicholas spent three years on the PGA Tour and is now playing the Nationwide Tour.
Lexi looks to be playing with the maturity of a veteran but with the care-free attitude only a youngster could have. “I’m going into (Sunday) just going all-in on every golf shot,” Thompson said. “Play consistent like I have the last few days and hopefully it’ll all go well.”
A sixteen year old American LPGA Champion that drives it long and can get more people looking at this game could be just what this tour needs. It seems a bit odd that a player that technically can’t be a member of the tour could just turn out to be a savior of sorts for the tour. Lexi Thompson has the skills to be a star on this tour but not many thought it would happen so quickly. If she manages to pull it off and win here, both Lexi and the LPGA will have some seriously negotiating to do to get her on the tour full time.