Thompson uncomfortable as LPGAs hot topic

By Randall MellJuly 28, 2010, 11:07 pm

LPGA Tour _new

Women’s British Open defending champion Catriona Matthew thinks too much is being made of 15-year-old Alexis Thompson not being there this week.

She’s not alone.

Alexis thinks the same thing, according to her agent.

The Thompson family is uncomfortable that she’s the focus of so much attention with a major championship about to begin when she’s not even playing.

Matthew and Laura Davies came into the Women’s British Open media center at Royal Birkdale on the eve of the championship and were both asked multiple questions about Thompson. They had opposing takes that sum up the back-room debate Thompson’s inspiring with her stunning start to her professional career.

alexis thompson
Thompson’s T-10 at the U.S. Women’s Open and T-2 at the Evian Masters have made her a hot topic on tour. (Getty Images)
Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent, said when he first explained why she wouldn’t be playing the Women’s British Open this week – Thompson’s request for a special exemption to final-stage qualifying was denied after a conflict with the U.S. Women's Open prevented her from going to prequalifying – he never intended for the fallout to take on a life of its own.

“At first, the reaction to not getting to play over there was, `Well, that’s a bummer,’ but she moved on quickly,’” Kreusler said. “Her reaction is, `Well, what are we doing today? Can we go to the beach?’”

Thompson’s tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago and her tie for second at the Evian Masters last weekend have made her a hot topic on tour. In the third round of the U.S. Women’s Open at brutish Oakmont, Thompson was paired with Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin. She beat Miyazato by 10 shots and Shin by two. Shin’s the No. 1 player in the world and took the top spot from Miyazato, who has won four times this season.

Jim McLean, Thompson’s swing coach, isn’t surprised the 15-year-old from Coral Springs is creating such a buzz.

“These tour pros see how fiercely competitive Lexi is, and how she can just rip her drives past them, and it definitely gets their attention,” McLean said. “It’s incredible how much she loves competition. She doesn’t shy from it. She can tee it up with anybody right now.”

The questions in the media center Wednesday at Royal Birkdale included whether someone 15 is old enough to be a professional. It’s likely to be a debate that will only grow if Thompson continues this torrid start. The conversation focuses on more than whether Thompson is ready competitively.

“I think probably she'd be better off at school,” Matthew said in her pre-tournament interview. “She's certainly proved she's a good enough player, there's no doubting that. But 15 is maybe just a little too young to come out on tour. I mean, it's still really only a child. She should be enjoying herself more. I don’t see the great rush.”

Davies took a different stance.

“If she wants to play, she should be allowed to play,” Davies said. “If you're good enough, for me, you're good enough. That's just the way it is. In tennis and other sports, just the fact that you're so young is probably a little bit of a bonus because it creates so much excitement for the tour. So, personally, let her come and play. But I'm sure there are a lot of people that disagree with that. You have to assume that the people around her are doing the right thing.”

McLean said people should understand that Thompson loves the game, loves to practice and that her parents didn’t push her toward turning pro early.

“It’s frustrating to the family, the criticism of her turning pro, because it really was Lexi’s idea,” McLean said. “She was ready to play. This was the interesting next step for her. She didn’t take the step wanting to beat the pros. She took it knowing she could win. This wasn’t her parents, Scott and Judy, pushing her at all.”

If Thompson were an LPGA member, after just three starts, she would already be 18th on the LPGA money list this week with $314,842 in prize winnings. That would rank her ahead of Michelle Wie ($283,784) and Azahara Munoz ($274,534). Munoz leads the Rolex Rookie of the Year points list.

LPGA rules require members be at least 18 years old. Kreusler said the family has no intention at this time of petitioning for a waiver of the age limit, but if she had won the Evian Masters, she could only have claimed the two-year LPGA exemption that comes with the victory by being granted a waiver. A victory, Kreusler said, might require a re-evaluation of plans.

As a non-member of the LPGA, Thompson can play on six sponsor’s exemptions a year. She also can play her way into the U.S. Women’s Open and Women’s British Open, giving her eight possible chances to play LPGA events. Kreusler said the family’s focus is on limiting her to 15 to 17 professional events next year. She would look at the Australian Women’s Open and Australian Ladies Masters, Japan LPGA Tour events and Ladies European Tour events in completing her schedule.

In the meantime, Thompson continues to be the talk of an event she’s not playing.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

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But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).



And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

FILM 1

Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


FILM 2

Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


FILM 3

Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

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Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

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USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.