July 29, 2011
You know those moments when you just see something extra special and you know you probably won't see that again for a while? That was me on the range last season in Arkansas at the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship. Young Lexi Thompson, just 15 at the time, was hitting long irons high and soft, something you don't normally see on the hybrid-obsessed LPGA Tour.
It was mesmerizing. Long iron after long iron, sent on down the fairway, soaring like it was struck by Fred Couples.
I knew then that Thompson was one of those special types that occasionally find themselves on the LPGA Tour; call her Michelle Wie 2.0.
The only problem with Thompson was she wasn't 18, the minimum age requirement for full status on the LPGA Tour. Lucky for her, and the tour, a special exemption was granted to the now 16-year-old, and Thompson is currently competing in Q-School. How did she do at the first stage?
Good if you consider what Tiger Woods did at Pebble Beach back in the day OK. Thompson opened with three straight rounds of 66, finished with a 67 on Thursday, and her 23-under total was good enough to clear the rest of the field by 10 shots.
Thompson might be young, but she's going to win early and often. At the Evian Masters a year ago, Thompson finished in second place, a shot back of a playoff, and she couldn't even drive yet.
I've been lucky enough to meet her, and can honestly say she's a great young lady with a good head on her shoulders and a great supporting cast led by her father, who obviously has the genes for golf success (Lexi's brother, Nick, is on the PGA Tour right now). And her play this week, much like Rickie Fowler two years ago at Q-School, shows that sometimes, talent and confidence is all you need to get past the tough test of qualifying for your tour.
Good for Lexi, and hopefully it continues so she can compete next season in full, and show the world that there are young Americans ready to win before they can vote.