Thompson Petitions to Join LPGA Tour in 2011

Alexis Thompson has petitioned the LPGA Tour to play more events in 2010. The 15-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., wants to enter 12 events next year, six more than she played as a non-member in 2010.

The LPGA Tour requires that its members are at least 18 years old. Thompson, who turns 16 on February 10, is seeking to get more starts through sponsor exemptions set aside for regular LPGA members.

Even though many current members believe Thompson is capable of competing with other LPGA players, they also think she should have to wait.

"She's a good player, but she's very young," said 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."

Kerr also believes that the rule protects existing members while ensuring teenagers below the limit are not exposed to the rigors of a tough game at so young an age. "I don't think that's a good idea for the tour to do that," Kerr said. "I mean, why wouldn't they do that for Michelle Wie then? If they didn't do it for Michelle, why would they do it for Lexi?"

Morgan Pressel is the only player for whom the LPGA Tour has waived its age requirement. Calling Thompson's petition "interesting," Pressel asked of the request, "Why didn't they just petition the Tour (for full membership)?"

Angela Stanford said Thompson's 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."

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

Her father, Scott Thompson, added, "I think she'd be good to have out there," said her father, Scott. "I think she could help."

After hearing of the mutterings by LPGA players, Scott Thompson responded, "My feeling is they don't want her out there - for the most part. I don't understand it."

If the petition is rejected, Alexis Thompson would be eligible for only six LPGA events next year. She might also play her way into the U.S. Open and possibly the British Women's Open. Thompson is already slated to play in the Australian Women's Open in February and the Australian Ladies Masters in March.