by Jeff Skinner
“All things come to he who waits” so they say. The waiting has begun for Lexi Thompson and her team as she has officially filed a petition with the LPGA to waive the minimum age requirement of 18 to join the tour. Thompson is in the unique position of having a tournament win and still needing special permission to join the tour.
Thompson became the tour’s youngest winner when she won the Navistar LPGA Classic two weeks ago. Since she is only 16 commissioner Mike Whan and the LPGA will have to grant an exemption to the young champion. He already saw the potential in Thompson and granted her a pass into the Qualifying School. She won the first stage of Q-School but since her win she has withdrawn from Q-School which is continuing this week.
The decision for Mike Whan is an easy one. If he allows Thompson to join the play the tour gets a young, talented, appealing new star for the tour that should generate plenty of press, attract new fans and maybe a sponsor or two. If he denies the petition he’ll watch Thompson play on his tour on sponsor’s exemptions and then travel the world playing in Europe and Asia and miss out on a great opportunity to grow his brand.
For those that think the tour would be stealing Thompson’s youth from her they are wrong. Lexi Thompson is a professional golfer. She is home schooled and is very mature for her age. It doesn’t look like college is in her future right now and she is certainly capable of playing on tour.
She has a few things that another phenom didn’t a few years ago. Michelle Wie was playing on the LPGA Tour on sponsor’s exemptions at the same age and while she never petitioned for full time membership, there was plenty of pressure on Michelle, much of it her own fault. Thompson is a very different case.
Thomson has a strong support system in place and parents with experience in the world of professional golf. She has a brother, Nicholas that is on the Nationwide Tour (after 3 PGA Tour seasons) and another brother playing golf in college. So it’s not like they wouldn’t have considered college for Lexi and they are not for forcing her to the LPGA for a paycheck.
It looks like Whan will grant her wish and approve the petition. Maybe there will be some conditions but he’ll approve it. Each player should be considered on a case by case basis and in Thompson’s case the decision should be clear. She’s ready for the LPGA and they should welcome her with open arms.