BY STEVE ELLIS
Alexis Thompson, the top-ranked female amateur in the United States, plans to turn pro after this
summer’s Curtis Cup Match, reliable sources have
told Global Golf Post. She turns 15 on Wednesday.
Thompson follows in the footsteps of Michelle
Wie, who departed the amateur
ranks in October of 2005, a week
before her 16th birthday. But
that’s where the comparisons
likely end, at least at this stage
in their careers.
Wie was guaranteed a
reported $10 million when she
turned pro, primarily from Nike
and Sony, and was already an international darling
with huge financial opportunities, both on the men’s
and women’s tours. Thompson, on the other hand,
will enter the pro ranks to a down economy and
a women’s game struggling to regain a foothold.
LPGA regulations limit non-members to six sponsor
exemptions a year.
Thompson’s immediate playing options would
appear to be those six sponsor exemptions in the
U.S. plus opportunities in Europe and Asia.
It is not known who will represent Thompson and
what endorsement deals she will do. But sources tell
Global Golf Post there has been contact with Nike.
Messages left at the Thompson home were not
Thompson is not eligible for LPGA membership
until she turns 18 in 2013. However, there have
been exceptions. Aree Song in 2003 and Morgan
Pressel in 2005 won petitions to play at 17.
Wie chose not to petition for LPGA member-
ship until she turned 18, although she did play in
22 LPGA events on sponsor exemptions after she
turned pro, and in 2006, as a 16-year-old, earned
more than $730,000 in eight starts.
The 5-foot- 10 Thompson, whose older brother,
Nicholas, plays on the PGA Tour, first came to
national prominence in 2007 when she became the
youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s
Open, at 12 years, four months and one day. She
plans to conclude her amateur career at the 36th
Curtis Cup, June 10-13 at Essex Country Club in
Barry Goldstein, a south Florida teaching pro
and close Thompson family friend, told Global Golf
Post he would be surprised if the LPGA changed its
age rule for Thompson although he said he believes
Thompson is ready to compete against the best
women players in the world.
Goldstein said he doesn’t think the LPGA will let
her join the tour because they (the LPGA) would get
blamed if she failed. “She’s just too young.”
“Pressel fought and won. However, Pressel was
a high school graduate, Pressel was deciding be-
tween Duke University and ‘can I play on the LPGA
Tour?’ and they accepted her, but they went through
almost a little trial.”
Added Goldstein, “I do believe as a golfer she’s
ready to play. I believe she’s going to be bored the
next three years if she doesn’t. My daughter is an
excellent junior player, but Alexis is in another
world. They [Alexis’ parents] have done everything
correctly. That girl is physically ready for the LPGA
Tour and I can’t say that she’s not mentally ready,
because every time she has played on that Tour she
has had success.” l