ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mike Whan on Lexi

You probably know by now that Lexi Thompson's petition for LPGA membership was accepted on Friday. However, Mike Whan did a longer interview early in the day and many of you may not have seen the whole thing. I thought I'd pass along some of the pertinent bits for those of you who are interested.

Whan confirmed that Lexi's need for a petition to gain membership wasn't because of her age. It's a standard policy that any non-LPGA member who wins an event has to follow. Emily Kay over at Waggle Room mentioned this in a post last week, pointing out that Jiyai Shin had to follow this procedure as well even though age was not an issue in her case.

Whan also said that the process had not been dragged out. Rather, Lexi's reps had kindly waited to make her petition after the Solheim Cup and even gave him time to finish things in Ireland and return home before filing. (He was quite complimentary about how they had handled the entire situation, btw.) The petition, as you probably know, was filed on Thursday. Whan approved it on Friday. No delays.

He said that the main decisions were made earlier in the year when he decided to let Lexi go to Q-School. I thought it was interesting that Whan himself suggested it to Lexi's reps, essentially telling them that he would not simply give her a membership but was willing to let her earn it. That decision was based on two years of watching how Lexi handled all the aspects of playing the Tour, both on the course and off. Obviously speculation that he was trying to "protect" her by postponing this decision were groundless.

Another speculation among the media was that Whan was trying to stave off a bunch of young players petitioning for early membership. He said that that had already been happening for quite a while -- Lexi is simply the first one he has accepted. And he added that Lexi had set the bar very high for anyone else expecting preferential treatment!

Lexi will not be singled out for promotion. Whan said he didn't want to put excess pressure on her to perform. He did say that he would "ride" any success Lexi had, much as he had "ridden" Yani's success, but stressed that the Tour did not intend to promote any one star as its main attraction. The LPGA is fortunate to have a number of high-profile players, not only from the US but from 6 or 7 other countries, and that the players themselves would determine who became a "superstar."

Lexi's membership begins in 2012. That will start her membership only a month before she turns 17 -- just as her Q-School card would have -- and will let her compete for Rookie of the Year. Most of the remaining events this year are limited-field events that Lexi isn't eligible for, and she's already qualified for the Titleholders event at the end of the year.

And Whan also stated that he doesn't expect Lexi to set the Tour on fire when she comes out. He doesn't expect her to hit her stride for a few more years, that women's golf isn't like some other women's sports where a player's best years frequently come during her teens and delaying membership would put that at risk. He also mentioned Michelle Wie in this context and said that he isn't worried about her focusing on her college degree right now, that he expects her best years to be ahead of her as well.

It's pretty clear from other things Whan and Lexi's rep Bobby Kreusler have said that both sides have indeed been in talks for some time about Lexi's future on the LPGA and how to best structure things for her. It's also clear from things Whan said in the interview that he is dealing with each of his Tour players in the way he thinks is best for them and doesn't really care whether the media approves or not.

I don't know about you, but I find that awfully refreshing, given the economic pressures the Tour has been facing since he took over the helm. It certainly explains the overwhelming support he seems to receive from the players.

So I'm guessing Lexi will spend the rest of this year playing mini-tour events and possibly in Europe and Asia, and we'll see her in the CME Group Titleholders event on November 17-20.

And, in case you didn't know, Lexi sits at #44 in the Rolex Rankings. I doubt she'll be stuck there long!

No comments:

Post a Comment