December 17, 2011
Lexi Thompson is making LPGA commissioner Mike Whan look like a genius for granting the 16-year-old full-time membership in 2012.
If winning the Navistar LPGA Classic -- to become the youngest winner in tour history -- wasn't impressive enough, the teen phenom closed out the season in style on Saturday, capturing the Dubai Ladies Masters to become the youngster winner in Ladies European Tour history.
There was a point in time early on when some wondered if Thompson could handle the incredible pressure that was being heaped on her from an early age. But over the last four months she's shown enough moxie and ability to make you believe she's the future of women's golf.
It's hard to look past Yani Tseng's 12-win season and not feel like she has a stranglehold on the best player on the planet title; however, while the wins are nice, what the LPGA really needs at this point is a charismatic player to get people interested in the tour.
Thompson could very well be that player. Like a young Rickie Fowler, she has the cool-factor to draw in the younger crowd, as well as the game to back it up. We've seen plenty of young players ride a wave of hype before burning out, but this time around, it's hard to see Thompson going that route.
With each passing event, she continues to look more and more like the real deal. Going forward, the real test starting next season will be picking out a schedule that's manageable and taking things slow in her first full season.
Like Rory McIlroy when he first started playing abroad, Thompson would do well to stay fresh and take things easy. Her game is good enough at this point to contend on a consistent basis, and with a couple wins already under her belt she's free to pick and choose her events. Accomplishing that goal will put her in a great position in the years to come.
The LPGA has been waiting you a young star to come along and shake up the tour. For the longest time everyone thought that was Michelle Wie. But after watching Thompson hoist the trophy on Saturday in Dubai, maybe we were wrong all along. For the moment it looks like a 16-year-old with an extremely bright future is the tour's heir apparent.