Thompson turning pro ready or not

Amateur wiz will play next month in Shoprite LPGA Classic just 4 months past 15th birthday

May 13, 2010|By Jeff Shain, Tribune newspapers

Alexis Thompson already has rewritten plenty of the "youngest" standards around women's golf. The next one, though, looms as her biggest.

The South Florida prodigy, the nation's top-ranked female amateur for more than a year, is set to turn pro at next month's Shoprite LPGA Classic. Her first round for pay is June 18 — four months past her 15th birthday.

By comparison, Michelle Wie waited until one week before turning 16 to turn pro.

"She thinks she's ready," said her father, Scott Thompson. "She tells me all the time at dinner, 'I'm ready, Dad, let me go.' "

The teen hasn't finished lower than fourth in an amateur event since the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur, with four victories. She already has played as an amateur in two pro events this year — placing 16th at the Women's Australian Open and 24th at the Kraft Nabisco.

"Playing with the best players in the world is amazing to me," she said.

Invitations also have been accepted from two LPGA events in the fall — the Northwest Arkansas Championship and Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama. Two other exemptions are being finalized.

LPGA bylaws allow a non-member to take up to six sponsor exemptions a year. Getting her card, though, still may be a while off. The tour maintains an age limit of 18 — which can be waived by petition, though officials have held fairly steadfast in the past.

LPGA bracketology: Taking a cue from their PGA Tour brethren, the LPGA has decided to name the four brackets at next week's Sybase Match Play Championship for some of the game's greats.

Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Annika Sorenstam and Patty Berg were given the honors — the top four on the LPGA's all-time wins list. The overall top seed will be placed in the Whitworth Group.

The top 48 players from last year's money list are qualified. Fourteen spots are open via a qualifying process at this week's stop in Mobile, Ala., with the final two going to sponsor invitations.

Short putts: John Daly will make a Nationwide Tour appearance in his home state of Arkansas, accepting an exemption to next month's Fort Smith Classic. The June 17-20 event is the same week as the U.S. Open. … Juli Inkster and Sherri Steinhauer have been selected as assistants to U.S. Solheim Cup captain Rosie Jones for next year's matches in Ireland.

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