LPGA Waives Age Restriction for Korda

After finishing second in the LPGA Tour's Q School and immediately turning pro, 17-year-old Jessica Korda has received a waiver by the tour to allow her to enter 2011 tournaments.

Korda, who turns 18 in February, received the waiver Monday. The one caveat is that she had to agree not to count any potential earnings as official Tour cash until she turned 18, the minimum membership age allowed by the LPGA.

That might not be an issue since the LPGA Tour has not finalized its schedule for the upcoming season and won't release it until January. The 2010 schedule was available the preceding November. Insiders believe that LPGA commissioner Michael Whan is still lining up sponsors for next year's tournaments.

Korda's waiver following 15-year-old Alexis Thompson's petitioning of the LPGA Tour to play more events in 2010. The teenager from Coral Springs, Fla., wants to enter 12 events next year, six more than she played as a non-member in 2010.

In a 25-page petition, Thompson's agent, Bobby Kreusler, said that during Thompson's brief time on Tour, during which she earned $336,472, should qualify her for limited membership.

The response by current players to Thompson's request was pretty clear. Angela Stanford said the petition is coming at a bad time for the LPGA Tour, which has seen its calendar of tournaments shrink in recent years. In 2010, the Tour had 24 events, 11 less than in 2008.

"That's not fair. I'm sorry," the 33-year-old Stanford told the Golf Channel. "I just don't think you allow somebody opportunities into half our events when you have members who, maybe, won't be able to get into tournaments."

"She's a good player, but she's very young," added Cristie Kerr. "Exemptions are a sponsor's thing, yeah, but at the same time, we have to protect the integrity of the tour. I wouldn't expect that would be done. She wants to try and play on our tour, and you know, she's 15 years old or 16 years old, and she's not even really got her high school education complete yet.

"So that was her decision to turn pro early, and, yeah, she's a great player, but she's also very young. And you know, that's the rule, six exemptions. It's to protect the rest of the people that are members that need to get those exemptions sometimes."

In making it through Q School, Korda, despite posting a 77 in the final round, was relieved and excited at the same time. "It was a tough, tough day . . . But this is a dream come true. I knew I always wanted to turn pro, but I never thought I'd do it this year. I've had a really good year and I'm so glad I get to finish it out here, turning pro at LPGA Q School."