September 25, 2011
Sandra Post backs 16-year-old
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
Back in 1968, when she was driving from tour stop to tour stop in her Oldsmobile, not many people from outside her circle took notice of Canadian Sandra Post, but that changed quickly when she beat the iconic Kathy Whitworth in a playoff to win the LPGA Championship a few weeks past her 20th birthday.
There were no college scholarships and no development tours, so Post hit the LPGA Tour at the age of 19 and her LPGA title made her the youngest person -- male of female -- ever to win a major.
Post hung on to that title for decades until Morgan Pressel won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at 18 and even that tender age seems senior citizen in comparison to an announcement expected from commissioner Mike Whan about the future of 16-year-old Lexi Thompson.
Thompson, who won the Navistar LPGA Classic, has petitioned the LPGA for an exemption to the tour's 18-year-old age requirement.
Unlike when Post broke in, Thompson's story has rivalled the Solheim Cup and FedEx Cup/Tour Championship for attention recently and while getting her way seems like a slam dunk, there are those concerned that a 16-year-old may not be ready. Post says let her play.
"She's the real deal. Number one: She's shown that she can play and her win wasn't a fluke. Besides her obvious ability, it's her maturity. She's 16, but she carries herself more like someone in her 20s," said Post, adding her impression is that Thompson's parents and others around her seem to keep Thompson balanced.
In an era when players from other countries are becoming so dominant on tour, the emergence of an American talent such as Thompson is important to the tour, just as it was when Michelle Wie was breaking in, even if Wie hasn't been as successful as first expected.
"Maybe, it's a little selfish, but the LPGA really needs her," said Post, adding the "Asian invasion" and emergence of players from other countries justifies another team event as a complement to the Solheim Cup, the way the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup alternate on the men's side.
Post has advocated such an event for years and adds that it would be even more of a showcase now with players from around the world now focusing on Olympic golf. That will raise the stakes and quite likely the talent level in countries around the globe.
"We're such a world tour," said Post, adding that even the European side at the Solheim Cup is now drawing from more nontraditional countries these days. "The Netherlands is represented. Spain is in there. Germany's in there with Sandra Gal. They've got so many countries to choose from now."
The United States held an all-time 69-42-13 lead going into yesterday's Solheim Cup singles play, but came out on the short end of a 7-5 score as the Europeans won 15-13 overall "¦ Teams from the other side of the ocean now hold the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Solheim Cup, setting up the Presidents Cup as a critical win for the Americans "¦ England's Laura Davies, likely playing in her final Solheim Cup, pushed past Annika Sorenstam to become that event's all-time points leader. Davies also leads in most Solheim Cups played with 12 "¦ The Canadian duo of Adam Hadwin and Roger Sloan finished fifth at a qualifier on the weekend in Caracas, Venezuela, and failed to move on to the World Cup in China.
ONE HAAS RACE NOW
Bill Haas, son of American assistant captain Jay Haas, appears to have sewn up the final spot on the Presidents Cup team after his win at the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship on Sunday. Haas will be remembered for his miracle shot out of the water on the second hole of the playoff against Hunter Mahan, but if you're Fred Couples, are you concerned at all that errant Haas tee shots down the stretch evaporated a good lead for him and allowed Mahan into the playoff in the first place? "¦ Assuming that Haas is named to the team, that will leave Keegan Bradley, a two-time winner including the PGA Championship, and Rickie Fowler off the American team, among others. Whatever happens, the final player will be announced on Tuesday "¦ How about $10-million to the fan who can figure out all the scenarios that can happen on the last few holes of the Tour Championship/FedEx Cup? That's far more difficult than any shot from the players "¦ Couples is ignoring any criticism about him naming Tiger Woods to the team. "It goes in one ear and out the other," he said. By using that particular quote, was Couples admitting that nothing between the ears was used in making that particular decision?"¦ One for the homies: Michael Gligic of Burlington earned medallist honours at last week's Canadian Tour fall qualifying school in his home town. Gligic is a past club champion at Hidden Lake, where the four-round event was held "¦ Mike Belbin of Edmonton's Royal Mayfair Golf Club won last week's Titleist and FootJoy PGA of Canada Assistants' Championship at Cherry Hill, near Niagara Falls.