Thompson petitions LPGA for sponsor exemptions

By Randall MellDecember 3, 2010, 10:33 pm
LPGA Tour _newORLANDO, Fla. – Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson has officially filed a petition with the LPGA seeking more access to the tour’s schedule next season, GolfChannel.com has learned.

She isn’t seeking tour membership, however. She’s seeking more starts through more sponsor exemptions.

Thompson’s agent, Bobby Kreusler of Blue Giraffe Sports, filed a petition that asks LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to grant Thompson 12 sponsor exemptions next season, six more than what LPGA rules allow non-members.

LPGA rules require that players be at least 18 years old to be eligible for tour membership.

Morgan Pressel and Aree Song are the only players who have been granted waivers of that age restriction in tour history. Thompson, however, isn’t petitioning for membership, so no waiver of the age restriction is required. Thompson has filed a petition unlike any other player has filed in seeking more access through expanded sponsor invites.

Whan confirmed Friday that he has received the 25-page petition and will review it.

“In fairness to her and her agent and family, I know they did not sit down and write that without a lot of thought, so I need to sit down and read it with the same amount of thought,” Whan said. “I owe them that much.”

In an unprecedented twist in the petition, Thompson’s representatives are seeking to create a new pathway for talented underage prodigies.

“We would like to see the LPGA create a clear structure with which to deal with these special talents and situations, not only to benefit Lexi, but, moving forward, to benefit those young players who come behind Lexi, because this issue is not going away,” Kreusler said. “While this petition is about Lexi, it is also on behalf of the future of the LPGA and the problems that exist in that this tour has no bright-line rules whatsoever governing this.”

LPGA rules limit non-members to six appearances per year on sponsor’s exemptions. It’s possible to play eight if a player also qualifies for the U.S. Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open.

Thompson, of Coral Springs, Fla., turned pro earlier this year. She won $336,472 this season in her limited LPGA appearances under non-member rules. Her money winnings would rank her 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. She was 12 when she played her way into the national championship at Pine Needles. She’s also a U.S. Girls’ Junior and PGA Junior Girls’ champion.

“After watching Lexi play this year, in those limited starts on the LPGA, and watching her development, it became clear to us that it is in Lexi’s best interests to try to play on the game’s grandest stages and at its highest levels a few more times a year to assist in her development,” Kreusler said. “Importantly, she should be allowed this privilege, because she earned it this year.”

Kreusler said Thompson, a home-schooled sophomore in high school, is on pace to graduate early. He said part of this request is to limit Thompson’s worldwide appearances and travel as a pro. She pledged that she wouldn't play more than 17 times worldwide. 

Kreusler said he’s filing the unique petition based on powers of discretion available to the LPGA commissioner under the association’s constitution.

Cristie Kerr, who joined the LPGA at 18, said she has reservations about the tour granting the petition.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea for the tour,” Kerr said. “Why wouldn’t they do that for Michelle Wie? If they didn’t do it for Michelle, why do it for Lexi?”

Actually, Wie never petitioned the LPGA for a waiver of its 18-year-old age restriction or for more sponsor exemptions.

“Lexi’s a good player,” Kerr said. “Exemptions are a sponsor’s thing, but at the same time, we have to protect the integrity of the tour.”

With women’s golf seeing more young phenoms play their way into contention in LPGA events, Kreusler said it’s time the LPGA create a pathway to better guide development of young phenoms. Thompson nearly won the Evian Masters this summer, finishing a shot behind the champ, Jiyai Shin. If Thompson had won, Kreusler said he would have sought the two-year LPGA membership exemption that comes with the victory. He believes it won’t be long until some teen prodigy wins an LPGA event and pursues the exemption.

“The time has come for the LPGA to be proactive and say, `Look, it’s not a bad thing that God has given someone a certain gift and talent at a younger age and they have the ability to develop faster than others',” Kreusler said. “The best thing they can do is work with those young people to allow them to continue to develop properly, and progress properly, and protect that gift. Not just say, arbitrarily, `No, you are going to play just six events and that’s it, because it’s our rules.’ Guess what? Life is built on a number of archaic rules that are changed all the time.

“Every day, every sports organization, every professional organization, whether it is accounting or legal, has to adjust its rules and bylaws because the current state of the world in which we live changes. You can’t just stick your head in the ground and say this isn’t a problem.”

Kreusler said the LPGA player vote this week to change its constitution so that members no longer have to be “female at birth” is an example of that. Kreusler, saying he respected that bylaw change, believes the tour has a larger issue with more talented underage girls lining up to make the LPGA than transgender women lining up to play.

Kreusler would like to see the LPGA set up a graduated path to its tour for young prodigies, something similar to what the WTA has in women’s tennis.

WTA rules require players to be 14 to compete but limit tournament appearances to eight. That goes up to 10 appearances for 15-year-olds, 12 for 16-year-olds and 16 for 17-year-olds (not counting the WTA Tour Championships).

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."