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.”

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.