Before last week, the youngest women to win events in the Ladies Professional Golf Tour were 18-year-olds, including Paula Creamer in 2005, Morgan Pressel in 2007 and Marlene Hagge, in 1952.
But this year’s Navistar LPGA Classic winner, 16-year-old Lexi Thompson, shattered the age record as she cruised to five-shot victory over Tiffany Joh. Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated and Golf.com joins Bill Littlefield on Only A Game this week to discuss Thompson’s achievement and the youngster’s future in golf.
Typically, competitors must be 18 in order to join the LPGA Tour, according to LPGA rules. But a player can petition to have that requirement waived. Shipnuck says it would be unfortunate if Thompson were not able to take part in the tour this year, considering not only her enormous talent but also her youth factor. “The tour needs Thompson more than Thompson needs the tour,” Shipnuck says.
Whether she competes in this year’s tour or not, however, the horizon appears very bright for Thompson. She has been on the women’s golf radar screen for several years, having shared the lead at one point in the 2009 Navistar LPGA Classic when she was just 14 years old. “There was never a question of ‘if’, merely ‘when,” Shipnuck says. “She’s going to be the number one player in women’s golf at some point. She’s just a tremendous package of power, touch, [and] imagination.”