Alexis Thompson is a 15-year-old pro on the LPGA Tour. Read that sentence again. Does it make your blood boil? Do you start to have visions of an overhyped, over-parented, over-coached youngster making a mockery of the LPGA? OK, hold on. Let me add a little more to the mix:
Alexis Thompson is a 15-year-old pro on the LPGA Tour, and she just tied for second at the Evian Masters.
Changes the game a little bit, doesn't it? Thompson finished just a single stroke behind Jiyai Shin. And just a few weeks before, she tied for 10th at the U.S. Women's Open. Impressive, huh?
Thing is, she won't be at the Ricoh Women's British Open thanks to a bizarre tumble of rules. She had won exemption into the Open's final qualifying because she was a Curtis Cup member, but lost that exemption when she turned pro. That's fairly standard procedure in golf; part of the debate about turning pro is to give up childish things, like exemptions you earned as an amateur.
What's got to be frustrating for Thompson is that she doesn't even have the opportunity to play her way into the tournament. Why? Because the Ladies Golf Union, the organizing body which oversees the Open, for some insane reason scheduled pre-qualifying the day after the U.S. Women's Open.
So here she is, with no exemption into final qualifying and no chance to have played in pre-qualifying. The Ladies Golf Union has flat-out denied Thompson's petition to play in the qualifying tournament.
"Exemptions into final qualifying for professionals are not the norm," Shona Malcolm, the LGU’s CEO, told Golfweek's Sean Martin in an email. "The main circumstances would be medical exemptions or, occasionally and very exceptionally, players of reputation who had previously been long-term participants in, supporters of or winners of the Ricoh Women’s British Open."
Now, it's obvious why golf officials are being a bit measured in their response to Thompson's hot start. The last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the Michelle Wie situation, where a kid was hyped to the heavens and didn't immediately perform. Thompson has done well early on, but there's no indication it'll sustain. (None that it won't, either. Ya never know, do ya?)
So the Thompson camp is going to have to take this one on the chin and move forward. If she keeps playing at this level, this British Open snub is going to be nothing but a faint memory before too much longer.
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- Alexis Thompson