Lexi Thompson lapped the field and then some in capturing medalist honors by 10 strokes in this week’s first stage of LPGA Tour qualifying school. The 16-year-old golfing whiz kid fired a whopping 23-under 265 (66, 66, 66, 67) to leave no doubt Friday that the 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup hero was serious about earning tour membership.
Amateur Mitsuki Katahira finished at 13-under and was Thompson’s nearest competitor.
No doubt. Thompson, who flew directly from last week’s Evian Masters to LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., to headline the 72-hole initial leg of Q-school, put on an impressive display in the first phase of trying to win her tour card. The big-hitting Floridian, who convinced tour commissioner Mike Whan to waive the age requirement and let her compete in the qualifying contests, has played tour events with sponsor exemptions and earned more than $300,000 in professional tournaments last year.
Thompson reportedly chose not to speak with the media during the competition, but her father said she was completely focused on playing her game.
“I didn’t want a bunch of hype with the Q-school,” Thompson’s father Scott Thompson told the Daytona Beach News Journal Friday. “Just so that she could sit there and focus on the Q-school, because we get a lot of media attention everywhere we go, and sometimes it’s a little much. So this was kind of to just let her relax and play a tournament, and not have to answer all the questions. [Today] I’m going to step aside [and let her be interviewed].”
Should Thompson cruise through the next two qualifying stages as easily as she did this week, it’s safe to say that the LPGA will have a 17-year-old rookie teeing it up in as many 2012 tourneys as she wishes to enter.
Swing change. For now, it appeared that the swing changes Thompson had been working on were doing the trick.
“It’s getting good again,” the elder Thompson, who also caddied for his daughter this week, said. “We didn’t play good from February to June, and then she went through a pretty big swing change.
“She’s playing good now,” said Lexi’s dad.
The top 50 of the 150 competitors (and ties) who played this week on LPGA International’s Champions Course will advance to Stage II of Q-school at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., from September 27-September 30.
After that, the lowest 70 scores and ties from Stage II will head to the final qualifying event. That 90-hole contest on LPGA International’s Champions and Legends courses will take place November 30-December 4.
Top finishers in the final stage will earn their 2012 LPGA cards, with all others who make the cut achieving LPGA Futures Tour status.