After turning pro in June, 15-year-old wunderkind Alexis Thompson wasted little time burning through her annual quota of six LPGA sponsors exemptions. What’s a girl to do? Beat up on the boys, of course! Thompson teed it up on the men's Minor League Golf Tour yesterday and fired a 67 to finish runner-up in the one-day event at Hillcrest Country Club in Hollywood, Fla.
Thompson, the only female in the 39-player field, left a birdie putt on the 18th hole a couple of inches shy of forcing a playoff with winner David Schuster of Turner Hill, Mass.
Thompson, who tied for fifth [in a MLGT event] Wednesday at Hammock Creek in Palm City, said she plans to play once or twice a week on the MLGT. But she isn't doing so to mimic Michelle Wie, who famously—and unsuccessfully—tested her game against men when she was a promising teenager.
"There's no intention of ever doing that," said Scott Thompson, her father.
How the Asian Swing is "killing" late-season PGA Tour events Steve Elling at CBS Sports
"The LPGA could use her out there," said former PGA Tour pro Guy Boros, who shot 68 Thursday. "They need her a lot more than she needs them.
Making the have-not divide all the more noticeable is the fact that the Asian no-cut stops are staged the week before the PGA Tour's full-field finale at Disney World, where guys who struggle not only won't get paid a guaranteed cent, they face losing their tour card for 2011. Moreover, the top-tier guys who are still playing in the fall aren't going to fly from China to Orlando for the season finale, so the overseas cash grabs mean the Disney field is lacking in star power. Last year, one player teed it up in both China and Orlando.
"It's killing us," Disney tournament director Kevin Weickel said Tuesday.
It's making the journeymen players take note, too, albeit mostly for small-picture, financial reasons.
"Everything goes back to [former commissioner] Deane Beman, and he said it best," Chris DiMarco said. "There are two words: Play better. If you play better, everything comes with it. The better you play, the more things you are given."
"The Island already has a wonderful structure to host events, but I really think [the Grand Slam] is the wrong event," he said. "For far less money you can attract an LPGA event, you can attract a seniors event, and we already have an event, the Bermuda Open, that is already structured to provide a quality, international golf event.
"If you look at it from a commercial stand-point, you can even go further as to the amount of money spent on the Grand Slam. If you were to just create an actual TV commercial about the Island's golf, take it to the Golf Channel and run it during prime time, you would achieve 10 times the amount of exposure for the Island than this one-hour featured event that you see on television."