The LPGA will allow Lexi Thompson to be a member in 2012 if she qualifies via Q-School, according to a report Tuesday by Golfweek. Thompson is 16 but her birthday is February 10, just prior to when the 2012 LPGA season is expected to begin.
The tour’s rules say that a player must be at least 18 to become a member or she must get commissioner approval to accept membership earlier.
“The LPGA has previously granted players under the age of 18 the ability to compete in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament (Aree Song, Morgan Pressel, Jessica Korda),” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told Golfweek in a statement. “Lexi Thompson will also have that same opportunity - to earn her way to the LPGA Tour, or the LPGA Futures Tour, via the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, a three-stage, 13-round qualifying process.”
The LPGA has given membership to 17-year-olds on two occasions. Morgan Pressel and Aree Song both were granted membership at 17, but both turned 18 during their first season. Yani Tseng and Inbee Park were both denied earlier access.
If Thompson were to become a member she will have to advance through the LPGA’s new qualifying structure where there are three stages. The first is held July 26-29 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., the same week at the Women’s British Open.
Late last year Thompson broke new ground when the LPGA allowed her to compete in Monday qualifiers as a nonmember. As a nonmember she asked the LPGA to give her the ability to accept 12 sponsor exemptions, up from six. The tour declined but gave her the Monday qualifying option.