The young girl can play but won't. The old guy can't play but will. In professional golf, it's not always whether you win or lose, but how you handle the loopholes, as a pair of oddball occurrences proved earlier this week.
Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson already is one of America's best female golfers, which makes her absence at the Women's British Open a poorly timed shame with many to blame. Thompson was exempt into final qualifying of the British Open by virtue of her making the 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup team, but that exemption was revoked when she turned pro a month ago.
Stupid rule. Outdated and myopic, what is the reasoning behind depriving superb young players the chance to compete in a major championship? If the accomplishment of winning an amateur title or making a national team is worthy of such an exemption when it happened, why does the decision to play the game for a living change that? You're basically penalizing a kid for getting on with life.
When Thompson was denied the pass into final qualifying she looked to qualify at the first stage, but it conflicted with the U.S. Women's Open. Shona Malcolm, CEO of the Ladies Golf Union which runs the Women's British, admitted that negative feedback from special consideration to Michelle Wie several years back affected her consideration of Thompson.
People forget that Wie finished T-3 at the 2005 Women's British, meaning the leap of faith didn't exactly end with a crash landing. Besides, every case of the worthy phenom is different, and thus, should be treated objectively. Thompson tied for second place at last week's Evian Masters, so she could have arrived at Royal Birkdale as a player with a realistic shot of winning.
Those aren't the kind you leave at home. The LPGA might be governing out of its jurisdiction on this one, but it should work with the LGU to set up a system to assure that every top-50 player is eligible for all four major championships.
It isn't that hard. Just ask Ray Halbritter, CEO of Nationwide Enterprises, which owns Turning Stone Resort, host site of next week's PGA Tour event. Halbritter decided to give himself a sponsor's exemption – think George Plimpton in 'Paper Lion' without the slack-jawed awe or the self-deprecating smirk. The Tour should be ashamed of itself for letting this happen.
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At Turning Stone, which has been accorded opposite-event status behind the WGC gathering at Firestone, a majority of Tour pros in the field still have to sing for their supper. Spots are precious, which means fantasyland millionaires don't belong. Of course, the Tour won't do anything to deter Halbritter – why discourage a man who stuffs $6 million in your pocket to stage some fourth-tier tournament with no network TV?
It's as close as pro golf has gotten to reality TV. Lower standards, higher profits. Dumb and dumber, no matter how you measure it.