LPGA denies Thompsons petition for more sponsor exemptions

By Randall MellJanuary 15, 2011, 12:00 am

LPGA Tour _newLPGA commissioner Mike Whan denied 15-year-old Alexis Thompson’s petition for more sponsor exemptions on Friday, but he opened a new door that could allow Thompson and other non-members considerably more access to the tour.

While Whan said 'no' to Thompson’s unprecedented request for 12 sponsor exemptions, double what tour rules allow non-members, he announced the tour is changing its rules governing Monday qualifiers.

Alexis Thompson
If she was three years older, Alexis Thompson already would have full playing privileges on the LPGA. (Getty Images)

 Beginning this year, Monday qualifiers will be open to non-members, where in the past only members were allowed to play, along with limited amateur participation (two amateurs per week, usually local players).

Whan told GolfChannel.com that the Monday qualifier change was in the works before Thompson’s petition but that the timing does create more opportunities for Thompson and players like her.

While Thompson was allowed to play no more than eight LPGA events under last year’s rules – six on sponsor exemptions and two by qualifying for the U.S. Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open – it’s possible she could play in as many as 15 tour events under the new rules. She and other non-members will be allowed to play in the seven Monday qualifiers that are planned so far this year.

“Our reaction is we’re satisfied,” said Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent. “It’s certainly not exactly what we asked for, but this allows Lexi an opportunity to earn her way into tournaments that won’t count against her six sponsor exemptions. I wouldn’t say we are over the moon about it, because we asked for a certain type of relief, but the end result is that she could arguably end up playing in more tournaments than what we asked for as part of the petition.”

Thompson turns 16 in February and isn’t eligible to try to earn membership through Q-School. LPGA rules require that players be at least 18 years old to be tour members. Waivers of the age restriction can be granted at the discretion of the commissioner. Morgan Pressel and Aree Song were both granted waivers when they were 17.

Whan said he denied Thompson’s petition for 12 sponsor exemptions on philosophical reasons.

“At the real 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. “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?’ It didn’t feel like it's the right thing to do. I know Lexi made a decision [to turn pro], and I’m fine with the decision, and I think it will turn out great for her.”

Whan said he’s also against the notion of creating limited membership, where a new category is created allowing 10 to 12 starts per year.

With sponsor exemptions, Thompson’s guaranteed a spot in a tournament field. But in Monday qualifying, there is no guarantee a player will advance into that week’s event. Monday qualifiers can be shootouts where typically dozens of players compete for two spots into that week’s tournament.

Randall Mell also looks into the LPGA's possible changes regarding non-member money earnings, which would have directly impacted Thompson in 2010.

Click HERE for his story.

 

“Monday qualifiers will be very competitive, and it will be very difficult for players to earn a spot,” Kreusler said. “But at least the opportunity is there now, and that’s important to us.”

Thompson, of Coral Springs, Fla., turned pro last year and won $336,472 in her limited LPGA appearances. Thompson would have ranked 34th on the LPGA money list if she were a tour member. She tied for second at the Evian Masters and tied for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open. She first made her name as the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open and in winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior and the PGA Junior Girls championships.

“Lexi has remarkable skills for a 15-year-old, and if she continues to grow and develop, I believe that she should have a great future both on and off the golf course,” Whan said.

When Thompson first petitioned the tour for 12 sponsor exemptions, there was a strong backlash among veteran tour pros who didn’t like the idea that a non-member could enjoy more access and playing privileges than players who earned tour membership.

“Lexi hasn’t been given anything in her career,” Kreusler said. “It’s why we’re not upset with this. It requires Lexi to earn more starts. Nobody can really argue with you playing when you earned it.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.