Lexi to file for LPGA membership Thursday

By Randall MellSeptember 28, 2011, 10:40 pm

Doors began opening Wednesday to teen phenom Lexi Thompson becoming a full member of the LPGA beginning in 2012.

Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, told GolfChannel.com that he will file a petition Thursday seeking a waiver for Thompson of the LPGA rule requiring tour members to be at least 18 years old. He spoke by telephone with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan Wednesday about the pending filing, which looks more and more like a mere formality to Thompson being granted tour membership privileges next season.

Kreusler is filing the petition so Thompson, 16, can claim the membership privileges that go with her victory at the Navistar Classic two weeks ago. He is, however, seeking to defer membership until next season, which an LPGA source said is vital to clearing the way to Whan’s granting a waiver.

Barring an unexpected twist in the petition process, or snag in the legal department’s review, Whan’s preparing to approve the petition on the condition that Thompson waits until next year to take up tour membership. Whan’s approval will establish Thompson as a member competing next season off Category 7 of the LPGA Priority List.

Thompson became the youngest winner of an LPGA event claiming the Navistar title at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old.

By deferring membership until next season, Thompson alleviates concerns Whan has about creating a precedent in granting membership to a 16-year-old. Thompson turns 17 on Feb. 10, which, coincidentally, is also Whan’s birthday. Whan’s strongest reservation in granting Thompson membership is his reluctance to create a new pathway for juniors to turn pro before they’re ready. Whan believes Thompson’s an extraordinary exception.

Earlier this summer, Whan granted Thompson special permission to attend LPGA Qualifying School, with the agreement he would grant her a waiver of the 18-year-old age restriction if she successfully advanced through all three stages. Through that process, she would have been aiming to gain tour membership for the start of next season.

Whan told GolfChannel.com earlier this year that he was wary of being remembered as the commissioner who opened the tour to a floodgate of juniors.

“At the core of it, I really didn’t think I wanted to be the commissioner that created a new pathway to the LPGA that made young girls around the world think that as a freshman or sophomore in high school that they have a big decision to make,” Whan said in January. “I didn’t want to create this worldwide phenomenon where 14-year-olds are sitting in their living room and thinking, ‘high school or pro?’”

Whan said he deemed Thompson had proven herself worthy of special consideration.

“I don’t think I’ve opened any floodgate,” Whan told GolfChannel.com after granting Thompson permission to attend Q-School. “And the reason I know that is because I’m going to hold the gate. Is there another Lexi coming? Probably. Are they few and far between? Absolutely. So I don’t really think it’s a floodgate. I didn’t say welcome to the LPGA. I said we’ll see you at LPGA International [for Q-School] and good luck . . . I respect the fact that Lexi is on a unique plane performance-wise. I also know there’s another Lexi coming down the road in another couple years, but the standard’s going to be pretty high.”

Deferring membership also makes sense for the Thompson camp. If Thompson sought to claim immediate membership, she wouldn’t be eligible for LPGA Rookie-of-the-Year honors next season. Also, she wouldn’t likely be eligible to enter any field the rest of this season, other than the season-ending CME Group Titleholders, and she’s earned a spot in that field as a non-member anyway.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.