If you are a fan of the game of golf, you are aware that history was made on the LPGA tour last week. Sixteen-year-old Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in tour history by capturing the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala.
She did so by playing four rounds of golf in 271 strokes. That translates to a 17 under par total and a five shot win. With her dad toting her clubs,
Thompson left little doubt that she belongs on the LPGA tour deaspite her tender age. The previous youngest tournament champion was Paula Creamer, who hoisted a trophy at the age of 18.
Thompson, a home-schooled teenager from Coral Springs, Fla., won $195,000 for the victory, but it did not come with exemptions for future tournaments that frequently mean so much to first time winners. You see the LPGA has a rule that a golfer cannot be a full-time player on the tour until they have reached the age of 18. Thompson may challenge the rule.
I realize that girls mature faster than boys, but geez - 16! It's not easy for me to remember when I was 16, but I know that I had never ventured to a golf course at that age.
Can you imagine being a teenager and competing against the best golfers in the world? And did I mention that she beat them?
You have to love the young lady, though. She is a typical kid in that she will answer a question with an honest answer.
After the victory she was asked if she was nervous at the start of the fourth round. She admitted that she was and then came up with this gem:
"If you're not a little nervous, it means that you don't care."
Lexi Thompson will eventually be a weekly competitor on the LPGA tour. It just may not be next year. If we have to wait until 2013 to see her on a regular basis, so be it.
We'll wait patiently to marvel at her game. Down the road we will ask the trivia question about the youngest ever to win a tournament. Her name is Lexi!
A day after Lexi Thompson broke her record I traveled with my buddies to Lexington, Ky., for a little golf vacation. If there were any age records to be set on this trip, it would be at the other end of the spectrum. A dozen guys converged on the Bluegrass State. Six were labeled seniors as they have already passed the magic age of 65. The other six were classified as "juniors" though we're not very far away from senior status.
Given our ages we have made one change in our normal trip routine. We used to play golf on our way to our trip destination. Four consecutive days of the game has become a bit of a chore so we chose to dispense with "playing on the way." Instead half of us opted for a casino visit in lieu of that fourth round of golf. It was a pleasant start to the trip and a smart one as Mother Nature wasn't going to let us play that day anyway.
One of the best parts of a golf trip is listening to the stories from past excursions. Each trip brings new ones and the joy of remembering old anecdotes. Most of these guys have been doing up to four golf trips a year for the last 40 years. Trust me when I say there are a lot of stories.
Despite the fact that we are all good friends, differences of opinion do occur. We play our own ball with handicaps. The handicap assigned to each golfer can sometimes become a point of contention.
Which tees the "seniors" play can also be a problem. We check the yardages from the scorecards, but you know some tees are moved around. If you want to hear some grousing, just be in the vicinity when the senior tees are located on the same tee box with the white tees.
We throw in some bucks for games each day. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to question, albeit good naturedly, some of the rules we play by. A dollar after all is a dollar and we will fight for each one.
The rain ended Monday evening and Tuesday morning we slipped down I-75 to Richmond and played Gibson Bay. A beautiful course, it is a little long. My team won, though, and I got a little return on my investment. Two years ago, only one guy didn't make a dime.
Guess who that was?
Wednesday we waited out a rain shower before teeing off at Tate's Creek, a Lexington municipal course. We made it through six or seven holes before giving up. One of our guys made a putt or so he thought. After dropping in the hole, the water in the cup pushed it back out.
It was back to the motel for more storytelling.
Thursday brought us to Lakeside, another municipal course that features a 634-yard par 5. One golfer got on in regulation, and no, it was not me! The rumor mill had a visitor coming to watch us play on our last day. Apparently President Obama got caught up giving some speech from a bridge in Cincinnati and couldn't make it to Lexington.
We did get to see him however. On our way back home, we noticed that there was no traffic on southbound I-75. We were moving but it was stop and go. Then we saw the motorcade and we're pretty sure that he waved to us on his way by. At least the story that we will tell next year and for years thereafter will say so.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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