Lexi to file for LPGA membership Thursday

By Randall MellSeptember 28, 2011, 10:40 pm

Doors began opening Wednesday to teen phenom Lexi Thompson becoming a full member of the LPGA beginning in 2012.

Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, told GolfChannel.com that he will file a petition Thursday seeking a waiver for Thompson of the LPGA rule requiring tour members to be at least 18 years old. He spoke by telephone with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan Wednesday about the pending filing, which looks more and more like a mere formality to Thompson being granted tour membership privileges next season.

Kreusler is filing the petition so Thompson, 16, can claim the membership privileges that go with her victory at the Navistar Classic two weeks ago. He is, however, seeking to defer membership until next season, which an LPGA source said is vital to clearing the way to Whan’s granting a waiver.

Barring an unexpected twist in the petition process, or snag in the legal department’s review, Whan’s preparing to approve the petition on the condition that Thompson waits until next year to take up tour membership. Whan’s approval will establish Thompson as a member competing next season off Category 7 of the LPGA Priority List.

Thompson became the youngest winner of an LPGA event claiming the Navistar title at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old.

By deferring membership until next season, Thompson alleviates concerns Whan has about creating a precedent in granting membership to a 16-year-old. Thompson turns 17 on Feb. 10, which, coincidentally, is also Whan’s birthday. Whan’s strongest reservation in granting Thompson membership is his reluctance to create a new pathway for juniors to turn pro before they’re ready. Whan believes Thompson’s an extraordinary exception.

Earlier this summer, Whan granted Thompson special permission to attend LPGA Qualifying School, with the agreement he would grant her a waiver of the 18-year-old age restriction if she successfully advanced through all three stages. Through that process, she would have been aiming to gain tour membership for the start of next season.

Whan told GolfChannel.com earlier this year that he was wary of being remembered as the commissioner who opened the tour to a floodgate of juniors.

“At the core of it, I really didn’t think I wanted to be the commissioner that created a new pathway to the LPGA that made young girls around the world think that as a freshman or sophomore in high school that they have a big decision to make,” Whan said in January. “I didn’t want to create this worldwide phenomenon where 14-year-olds are sitting in their living room and thinking, ‘high school or pro?’”

Whan said he deemed Thompson had proven herself worthy of special consideration.

“I don’t think I’ve opened any floodgate,” Whan told GolfChannel.com after granting Thompson permission to attend Q-School. “And the reason I know that is because I’m going to hold the gate. Is there another Lexi coming? Probably. Are they few and far between? Absolutely. So I don’t really think it’s a floodgate. I didn’t say welcome to the LPGA. I said we’ll see you at LPGA International [for Q-School] and good luck . . . I respect the fact that Lexi is on a unique plane performance-wise. I also know there’s another Lexi coming down the road in another couple years, but the standard’s going to be pretty high.”

Deferring membership also makes sense for the Thompson camp. If Thompson sought to claim immediate membership, she wouldn’t be eligible for LPGA Rookie-of-the-Year honors next season. Also, she wouldn’t likely be eligible to enter any field the rest of this season, other than the season-ending CME Group Titleholders, and she’s earned a spot in that field as a non-member anyway.

Getty Images

Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

Getty Images

'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

Getty Images

Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.

That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

Getty Images

Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.

Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!