10-Year-Old Just Misses Advancing At Women's Open Local Qualifier

May 20, 2005

By David Shefter, USGA

Far Hills, N.J. - Alexis Thompson, a 10 year old from Coral Springs, Fla., who is believed to be the youngest player to file an entry for the U.S. Women's Open, just missed advancing to the sectional qualifying round on May 19. Thompson, playing at an 18-hole local qualifier at Imperial Golf Club in Naples, Fla., carded an impressive 77, but missed getting into a playoff for the final four spots by one stroke.

It was only four years ago that Morgan Pressel, then a precocious 12 year old (she turned 13 just prior to the competition at Pine Needles), qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, becoming the youngest-ever qualifier for that championship.

In 1967, Beverly Klass, at 10 years, 7 months and 21 days, competed in the Women's Open, but that was before qualifying existed for the championship.

Thompson, who just turned 10 on Feb. 10, had hoped to become the first 10 year old to endure the qualifying process and make the 156-player field for the 2005 U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills Country Club (June 23-26). A record 1,158 entries were accepted by the USGA this year for the championship.

If it wasn't for four three-putt greens, she might have cleared that first hurdle. Thompson recovered from a first-nine 41 to shoot 36 over her final nine holes, including three birdies.

"I'm not really upset that I missed it," Thompson told the Naples Daily News. "As long as I played well and I did, especially on the back nine, that's all that matters."

Thompson was among 94 golfers looking to earn one of the available 23 spots into sectionals, which will be held June 13-14 at nine different sites. Two other pre-teens were also in the field, 12 year olds Dakota Dowd (Palm Harbor) and Kyle Roig (Plantation). Both players also missed qualifying with rounds of 84 and 79, respectively. Kelly Lagedrost of Brooksville was the medalist with a 2-under-par 70.

Three other 12-year-olds are also entered in local qualifying as well as 11-year-old Ginger Howard of Jacksonville, Fla.

When Pressel qualified in 2001, only one stage of qualifying existed and it was only 18 holes. A year later, the process was changed to mirror that of the U.S. Open with 18 holes of local qualifying followed by a 36-hole sectional qualifier.

Thompson, a fourth-grader who missed a day of school to compete, struggled out of the gate with three consecutive three-putt bogeys. But on the 13th hole, she drained a 40-footer for birdie. At the next hole, she knocked a 4-iron approach to 6 feet to set up another birdie.

"She hit the ball great all day," Thompson's father, Scott, told the Naples Daily News. "I said she would have to play her best to make it and if it hadn't been for four three-putts on the first nine holes, I think she would have made it."

Thompson has grown up around golf since a young age. She first picked up a club at age five and has been playing competitively since she turned six. Her older brother, Nicholas, is also about to complete a stellar collegiate career at Georgia Tech where he was a four-year starter for one of the country's top men's golf programs. Nicholas was a third-team All-American as a junior and this past February won the Jones Cup, a premier amateur competition held at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. He's also a candidate to be named to the 10-man USA Walker Cup team that will compete against Great Britain and Ireland this August at Chicago Golf Club.

"She looks up to both of her brothers," said Scott Thompson. Twelve-year-old Curtis Thompson also is a competitive golfer.

Alexis Thompson, who carries a 3.0 USGA Handicap Index and averages 200 to 205 yards off the tee with her driver, recently shot a 31 on the front nine at her home course, the TPC at Eagle Trace, from the forward tees and her best score from the white tees (about 6,300 yards) is a 71, which included an ace. The 5-foot fourth-grader at Westchester Elementary has already won age-group titles at the Doral Junior and U.S. Kids Championship. At Florida state junior events, she competes in the 13-18 division. She isn't old enough to play in American Junior Golf Association competitions (must be 12).

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

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