Alexis Thompson didn’t close the way she wanted Sunday at the Avnet LPGA Classic in a bid to become the youngest winner in LPGA history.
Tied for the 54-hole lead, she stumbled home with a 78 that included two shots in the water and back-to-back double bogeys on the back nine. But if you were looking to see if the 16-year-old is equipped to handle the pressure-packed demands that come in the LPGA’s adult world, you saw affirmative evidence, even in her struggles. You saw something a victory couldn't have shown. You saw a readiness to handle the emotional challenges of the touring pro's life.
In losing, it still felt like Thompson passed a test.
Thompson showed something in the poise she demonstrated in defeat, in the control she showed handling the disappointment. After taking a few minutes to compose herself after signing her scorecard, she went on the air with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz. She also met with reporters. She hung around to sign autographs. She conducted herself the way a professional should.
If Thompson does eventually petition the LPGA for membership and a waiver of its rules requiring members be 18 years old, there will be questions beyond her skill level. There will be questions about maturity and her emotional readiness.
'You have these kind of days,' Thompson told Foltz. 'You just have to take it, put it behind you. I'll be thinking about it a few more days, and I'll learn from it.'
Thompson proved something in Sunday’s failure. There’s so much more failure than success in the touring pro’s life. So many people were watching Thompson, scrutinizing her. Whether she can succeed on tour has a lot to do with how she endures failure.
“She was pretty gutted afterward,” said Bobby Kreusler, her agent. “She isn’t used to faltering, but she will learn from it. There was a lot of good putting herself in that position.”
It was Thompson’s first start of the LPGA season. She ended up tying for 19th and taking home a $14,715 check.
Thompson’s next start is the Ladies German Open May 19-22 on the Ladies European Tour. She will return to the LPGA to play the Shoprite Classic June 3-5 on another sponsor’s exemption.