LAKE WORTH, Fla. – Alexis Thompson got a giant vote of confidence from a five-time PGA Tour winner and NBC-TV golf announcer Monday at the Bethesda Hospital Foundation Pro-Am at The Falls Country Club.
It had to make LPGA commissioner Mike Whan squirm a little in his seat in the back of the dining room during the pro-am awards presentation.
On Friday, Whan denied the 15-year-old phenom’s petition for a dozen sponsor exemptions, six more than the tour allows non-members, though he did announce a Monday qualifying overhaul that will help non-members gain more tour access.
“I’m going to say something political here, but I think it’s crazy not to let this young lady, Alexis Thompson, play as many times as she wants to on the LPGA Tour,” Bob Murphy told the gathering as he helped tournament hosts Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon distribute prizes.
The comment was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the amateurs congregated, but it must have made the 19 LPGA players in the pro-am squirm a bit, too. Most players were strongly behind Whan’s denial of the petition with players believing it was necessary to protect membership privileges.
“It’s probably the last time I’ll be allowed here,” Murphy cracked in jest.
Murphy helped found the Bethesda Hospital fundraiser and passed along host duties to Daniel and Mallon last year.
“I’m sure you all enjoy the company of these women more than you did my old pros,” Murphy said.