“Lexi Thompson, at age 16, you just became the youngest player to ever win a professional tour event. What are you going to do now?”
“I’m going back to Q’school.” Wait… what?! (Insert the sound of the needle being dragged across the record here.)
That’s right -- the geniuses on the LPGA tour are not granting Lexi an immediate tour card for next year.
Forget that Lexi just put a (beep)-whooping on the best golfers in the world. She won the Navistar LPGA Classic in September by 5 shots over the best field in golf.
Never mind that Lexi eclipsed the age record by two years, previously held by Paula Creamer and Marlene Hagge, who both won at 18.
And ignore that she qualified for a US Open at the age of twelve.
Let’s face it. When it comes to popularity, the LPGA tour has been spiraling down faster than the value of vacation homes in Miami. Since 2008, the tour has lost more than ten tournaments, and prize money is down more than $7 million.
Folks aren’t showing up to events anymore, and nobody is dialing them up on the Golf Channel. “Hmmm, what should we watch tonight?”
WNBA – click.
LPGA – click.
Women’s beach volleyball – “Hey… yeah, leave it here for a second!”
Lexi Thompson would provide a much-needed spark in this sport. You can throw out the obvious: that she’s American and only two Americans have even won on tour this year (Brittany Lincicome and Stacey Lewis). Regardless of sex or nationality, it’s just a good story when a gum-popping, pimple-faced kid who just got her driver’s license is beating the top players in the world. The LPGA may very well have a Tiger Woods on their hands.
However, the powers-that-be on the tour apparently have not spotted the golden ticket in the chocolate bar yet. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said that Lexi will have to follow protocol and complete in Q’school. He did manage to grant her an exception for the 18-year-old age limit. And before this epic win last week, she played in the first stage (of three) at Q’school and won by 10 strokes.
There’s no doubt that she’d cruise through the remaining stages, but Lexi’s camp announced that they would wait to hear back from the LPGA before continuing.
So what do you say, Mike? Perhaps you should rethink this whole thing before Lexi decides to try her hand on the regular PGA Tour. I can see it now… Lexi Thompson takes down Bubba Watson in sudden death playoff at Augusta. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but last February she beat some male pros, winning a mini tour back in South Florida.
(That must have been a rough dinner with the wife after going down to a sixteen year-old-girl. “So honey, who won?” “Never mind... pass the potatoes, please.”)
This kid is no fluke, and no matter how she gets her LPGA card, 2012 should be a fun year to follow the tour. Heck, I might even flip over from beach volleyball.