Thompson hopes membership frees up game


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Lexi Thompson concedes it’s been difficult building momentum as a 16-year-old playing on sponsor exemptions this year, and she hopes winning LPGA membership frees her up.

News arrived Tuesday that Thompson will be heading to LPGA Qualifying School this summer in a bid to win tour membership after being granted a waiver of the tour’s requirement that members be 18 years old.

“It would definitely help to be able to play every week if I wanted,” Thompson said at the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor. “It’s different when you’re playing and you know you’ll have to wait another month to play again, but it’s not something I’ve focused on.”

Thompson, who had a strong run at the Avnet LPGA Classic in early May before a final-round stumble, is looking to find her best form after a sluggish start to the first half of the season.

Thompson’s worldwide record so far this year:

Women’s Australian Open – MC.

Australian ANZ Ladies Masters – T-42.

LPGA Kia Classic Monday Qualifier – MC.

Avnet LPGA Classic – T-19.

Ladies European Tour’s German Open – MC.

ShopRite LPGA Classic – MC.

LPGA State Farm Classic Monday qualifier – MC.

LPGA Championship – MC.

While Thompson’s struggled to find her rhythm this year, this is the time she got hot last year. She tied for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont and then nearly won the Evian Masters, tying for second. She says she loves The Broadmoor's layout and will hit driver most every chance.

As a non-member, Thompson’s limited to six LPGA starts on sponsor exemptions this year, plus the U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open.

“It definitely creates a pressure situation,” Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, said. “With limited starts, where you don’t have next week promised to you, Lexi puts additional pressure on herself. Lexi’s such a competitor, she puts pressure on herself.”

While the push for LPGA membership gives the feeling there’s a rush to make things happen professionally for Thompson, Kreusler said that’s not the case. He says this year's struggles and pressures are all part of the learning process.

“Our plan is to get Lexi prepared to play at the highest level in two to three years,” Kreusler said.

If Thompson plays well this week, it could impact her Q-School start. She’s scheduled to play the first-stage qualifier July 26-29 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. However, at No. 120 in the Rolex World Rankings, if she can bump into the top 100 in next Monday’s rankings, she will exempt herself from first stage. That’s significant because Thompson will have to withdraw from the Ricoh Women’s British Open qualifier to compete in the first stage of LPGA Q-School.