Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson is seriously considering petitioning the LPGA for a waiver of its age restriction that would allow her to play the tour as a member next year.
Thompson’s family and management team is considering petitioning based on status she would earn as a non-member on the LPGA money list this year if not for the tour’s requirement that members be at least 18 years old.
“We have taken no action, but we are absolutely analyzing and investigating our options,” said Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s manager at Blue Giraffe Sports. “We are talking to experts in all walks of sports on this issue.
“We would not consider this request if we were not 100 percent certain that Lexi had shown a very clear ability to play at this level.”
Thompson, who turns 16 in February, turned professional this year and won $336,472 in the six LPGA starts she was limited to as a non-member. Those winnings would rank her 29th on this week’s LPGA money list.
Based on the Tournament and Players Regulations of the LPGA, non-members who finish among the top 80 on the final money list are eligible to apply for tour membership.
Kreusler stressed that Thompson’s petition for a waiver would be different from requests Morgan Pressel, Aree Song and other players under 18 have made as amateurs seeking to earn tour membership through LPGA Qualifying School.
“Unlike any other petition in the past, this is a completely different request, under completely different circumstances,” Kreusler said.
Kreusler said Thompson’s petition is different because she’s earned the status she’s seeking and has proved herself competitively, socially and emotionally while doing so as a professional in LPGA events. Also, Kreusler stressed Thompson, a home-schooled sophomore in high school, is not interested in playing a full-time schedule next year. He said the plan is for her to play just 15 to 17 tournaments, but she would like more than six of those events to be LPGA tournaments.
“What I may be asking for is different from what people think,” Kreusler said.
Thompson faces a rigorous travel schedule to get to 15 events as a non-member. As it is, she will travel to play the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in December, and the Australian Women’s Open and ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia in February. Her schedule limitations also have her playing men’s mini-tour events this winter.
Kreusler said he’s opened a dialogue with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and LPGA senior vice president of operations Jane Geddes. He said he has until the end of the year to officially petition.
'It was great to have Lexi with us on tour for several events this season,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s director of media relations. “She played well, endeared herself to the fans and demonstrated that she has a bright future in professional golf. Whether she is ready at such an early age is a decision that will ultimately be made by Commissioner Whan. Lexi has not yet petitioned the LPGA for membership and we won't be able to address until it happens, if indeed it does happen.'
Thompson, the former U.S. Girls’ Junior champion and the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, tied for second at the Evian Masters as a pro this summer and tied for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open. Her $336,472 in earnings ranks her just four spots behind Azahara Munoz, who has made 17 starts this year and leads the Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. Thompson’s money winnings also rank ahead of rookie Beatriz Recari, who won the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge two weeks ago and ahead of rookie Amanda Blumenhurst.