10-Year-Old Just Misses Advancing
At Women's Open Local Qualifier
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
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
"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
"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 email@example.com.