With the LPGA Tour coming to the U.S. this week for the first time in 2012 all eyes will be on young Lexi Thompson who will be making her state-side debut as a full fledged, card-carrying LPGA pro. There has been so much written about this young phenom since here win at the Navistar Classic in September and the Dubai Ladies Masters in December, almost too much to digest. But as you can read in this Sports Illustrated article by Alan Shipnuck last fall, there is a whole lot to this young lady and the clamor is justified.
She is about the same age as Michelle Wie when she went pro at 16 so the comparisons are inevitable. But unlike Michelle, Lexi’s focus has totally been on the women’s game and beating her peers. From age 12 to 16 the results have been phenomenal. She has the game, the poise, the athleticism, and the drive to compete at the LPGA level right now.
Shipnuck says in the article, “Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez says that the ideal formula for an LPGA player to achieve popularity is “to look like a woman but play like a man.” Which is why (Jim) McLean, in a nod to the LPGA commissioner, says, “Lexi Thompson is God’s gift to Mike Whan”.
In reading this article you have to conclude that Lexi’s strongest attribute the next few years will be the support group of her family. It has provided her the competitive foundation within which to develop her golf skills and the grounded perspective to handle the challenges success and fame will bring.
It is not going to be easy for her to develop as a regular kid competing every week with women ten years her senior. She will need to avoid the “burn out at a young age” that has foiled careers of other gifted and talenteds in women’s sports. Some mentoring from more recent peers like Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel who have made this transition successfully would do her a world of good. Hopefully her parents will give her the latitude to seek this out.
Any way you look at it Lexi’s arrival will be a huge boost for American presence in the ladies professional golf ranks. American fans have lots to be excited about, the next Solheim Cup should have another loaded gun on the American side.
(Click here to read Alan Shipnuck’s “Lexi Thompson” SI Article)