A day after Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history, her agent was busy writing a petition to seek full tour membership for the 16-year-old phenom.
“I’m getting good at writing these,” Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, said Monday.
Kreusler told GolfChannel.com that he spoke at length with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan by telephone on Sunday night about his plans to petition the tour to claim membership off Thompson's victory at the Navistar Classic. While Kreusler termed the talks positive, he said the matter won’t be fully addressed until next week, after completion of this week’s Solheim Cup in Ireland, one of the tour’s premier events.
“We are going to be filing a petition, but I don’t want to say anything more at this point,” Kreusler said. “It’s not something we want to focus on during the week of the Solheim Cup.”
Thompson supporters should consider developments promising in her bid to gain tour membership before she turns 18, the tour's minimum age. Basically, the petition will be filed this week, with a ruling expected next week. Kreusler is scheduled to continue discussions with LPGA vice president of competition Jane Geddes and LPGA director of tournament regulations Heather Daly-Donofrio.
Pressed on whether he’s working on a petition that would defer Thompson’s LPGA membership status until next season, Kreusler acknowledged it’s a consideration.
“But I’m not really prepared to address that right now,” he said.
A significant factor in deferring membership is that LPGA rules dictate that a player who immediately claims tour membership for a victory is deemed a rookie in that season. So if Thompson were able to claim immediate membership off the Navistar Classic victory, she would not be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors in 2012. By deferring membership, she would be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors next year.
Also, Thompson turns 17 at the start of next season (Feb. 10). If the LPGA commissioner is wary of setting precedent awarding tour membership to a 16-year-old, there's motivation in deferring membership until Thompson turns 17.
Here’s the petition situation in a nutshell:
• When an LPGA non-member wins a tour event, she has the option of claiming tour membership. She can claim it immediately, becoming a member through the rest of the current year and through the next year. Or she can defer membership, claiming it at the start of the following season.
• Because the LPGA has the 18-year-old age requirement, Thompson can’t claim tour membership for the Navistar victory. She must file a petition for a waiver of the age rule. If the waiver is granted, she can then claim the membership that goes with the victory.
• The LPGA earlier this year granted Thompson special permission to attend Q-School with the understanding that she would be granted a waiver of the age restriction should she earn member status through the three-stage process. Thompson swept through Q-School's first stage easily.
Now that Thompson has won an LPGA event, her camp doesn’t want her to have to continue through Q-School.
“Hopefully, this win will change things, but it’s not my decision and I’m not really worrying about it right now,” Thompson told GolfChannel.com after her victory Sunday.