CURTIS CUP
15-Year-Old Floridian Ends Amateur Career With 4-0-1 Mark At Curtis Cup June 12, 2010 By David Shefter, USGA

Alexis Thompson helped lead the USA to a comfortable five-point win at the 2010 Curtis Cup Match, going 4-0-1. (John Mummert/USGA)
Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass. – Sometime on Wednesday, Alexis Thompson will have her Hello World moment before the assembled media in Galloway, N.J.

You can expect the 15-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., to have the corporate look, replete with logos on her shirts, visors and golf bag as she prepares to make her anticipated professional debut at the LPGA Tour’s Shop-Rite Classic.

Surely there won’t be any temporary tattoos of the American flag or 2010 Curtis Cup Match below her eyes.

But that doesn’t mean Thompson won’t leave New England Monday morning with vivid memories of her amateur swan song at Essex County Club, where she posted a 4-0-1 record to help the USA claim the Curtis Cup Match for a seventh consecutive time.

Her final putt, a 2-footer at the par-4 13th green during a steady drizzle, produced a 6-and-5 triumph over Scotland’s Sally Watson. It left the Americans one point shy of winning the Cup outright, something teammate Jennifer Johnson made official some 20 minutes later. The final tally was USA 12½, Great Britain and Ireland 7½.

How many times does a player get a resounding ovation after talking to reporters? After fielding questions, the few hundred hearty spectators soundly applauded her performance over the past three days. Young boys and girls posed for pictures. She signed autographs and smiled, trying to absorb the last moments of amateur innocence.

I had so much fun, said Thompson. Playing for the United States was an honor for me … and having all these people come out and watch was amazing. I am really happy that I got to be here.

Since coming to a decision with her family to turn professional, Thompson made it a goal to make the Curtis Cup her final amateur competition. Her older brother and current PGA Tour member Nicholas was a member of the 2005 USA Walker Cup Team, and Alexis had heard from him and her father just how special these biennial competitions against Great Britain and Ireland are.

Playing on Junior Ryder Cup and Junior Solheim Cup teams are fun, but the Curtis Cup has a different feel and flavor.  Her father, Scott, said the Walker Cup was the coolest event he had ever attended, and that includes U.S. Opens and U.S. Women’s Opens and other big pro tournaments. After spending a week at Essex County Club, the Curtis Cup has joined that list.

This is an awesome thing to watch, said Scott, who will caddie for Alexis at Shop-Rite and next month’s U.S. Women’s Open, in which she’ll be competing for a fourth consecutive year. This is the highest level as amateur golf gets. This is where she wanted the end to be.

Certainly Thompson’s junior and amateur accomplishments have been remarkable. In 2007, she became, at 12, the youngest to ever qualify for a U.S. Women’s Open. A year later, she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior and last year she was a semifinalist at the U.S.  Women’s Amateur. She also shared low-amateur honors at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

So despite not being old enough to hold a driver’s license, Thompson felt the time was right to make the move to the next level.

My amateur career was great, she said. I had great experiences like this.

Scott Thompson doesn’t feel like much will change next week, even though his daughter will now have to learn how to fill out 1040 IRS Forms. Thompson has already been playing with the new grooves since last October and switched her equipment a week prior to the Curtis Cup.

It hardly affected her game. All aspects of her game were consistent during foursomes, four-ball and singles play at the Curtis Cup. She registered six birdies on her own ball in a Saturday four-ball victory with fellow Floridian Jessica Korda.

And she never gave Watson a chance on Sunday. Even when Watson dropped a 35-foot birdie putt at the ninth, Thompson answered with a 12-footer of her own to keep a 4-up advantage.

I am not going to play any differently, said Alexis. I am just going to play like it’s any other tournament.

Added Scott: She’ll put her competitive hat on and go at it. I am hoping it won’t be any different. I don’t want it to be any different.

David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.