LPGA needs to add teen winner on tour

LPGA Tour commission Mike Whan has a dilemma on his hands: whether or not to allow 16-year-old...

LPGA Tour commission Mike Whan has a dilemma on his hands: whether or not to allow 16-year-old Alexis Thompson to be a full-time member of the tour. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images/AFP)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

LPGA Tour commission Mike Whan has said he will wait until after this week's Solheim Cup entertain a petition to allow teen phenom Alexis Thompson to play as a member next season.

The fact that the 16-year-old is all people are talking about after becoming the youngest golfer in the history of the LPGA Tour to win an event — by two years, mind you — should give the commish his answer: Let her play.

In fact, there's already a groundswell of support on social media giant Twitter, where the #letlexiplay hashtag has been making the rounds from her fans (of which there are many), peers on the LPGA and PGA Tours (Ian Poulter), to her sponsors (Cobra-PUMA and Red Bull, pretty big backing for a 16-year-old).

Current rules state that a player must be 18 to play on the LPGA Tour, but a player can petition to have that requirement waived. It has happened twice, with Aree Song and Morgan Pressel getting exemptions, but both of them were close to their 18th birthday.

Thompson already has a victory, something that would have given her membership on the LPGA had she been of age, so it’s hard to believe the tour wouldn’t allow her play.

The long-hitting teen already has outdone that other can’t-miss-prospect — Michelle Wie, playing in Ireland at the Solheim Cup — by winning early to back all the hoopla (Wie had to wait until she was 20). Now it’s time for the LPGA to harness some of that hype to bolster a struggling tour that badly needs a young, American star.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng is great, but she hardly has been getting the publicity in her record-setting 2011 campaign.

The Americans are pulling for their Solheim Cup rookie, Ryann O’Toole, this week, but the 24-year-old, a member of the LPGA, can’t even boast the numbers Thompson can.

O’Toole has 10 starts with two top-10s for $165,477 this season while Thompson has made the cut in four of her eight events this season and made $237,297, $195,000 for the victory.

The fact is, the LPGA needs Thompson and Whan has little choice but to allow the teen to play.

DeLaet to wait

Graham DeLaet announced Wednesday that he is shutting it down for the season.

DeLaet and his team decided that he wouldn’t risk returning too early again after undergoing surgery in January to repair a herniated disc.

The Weyburn, Sask., native returned to the PGA Tour briefly in June but soon realized he wasn’t ready.

DeLaet played in the Nationwide Tour’s Boise Open last week, missing the cut after shooting 69-74.

“I’m playing some of the best golf of my career but still experiencing some lingering discomfort at the end of my rounds,” DeLaet said.

He will start 2012 on a major medical exemption.

Canadian connection

With the state of Canadian golf at the moment, we’ll consider this a small victory.

Jason Kokrak, winner of the Boise Open Sunday, was born in North Bay, Ont.

Tenuous connection, we know, but Kokrak’s background seemed to have everyone confused. Some media outlets had him as Canadian, some noted he was raised in Warren, Ohio, and others listed him as from Charlotte, N.C., where he lives now.

Wherever he’s from, he came out of nowhere, vaulting from 70th on the Nationwide Tour money list to 13th. He was the last man in the field in Boise after getting a spot when another player pulled out.


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