18 Under 18: Lexi Thompson
Youngest-ever winner on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tours is golf's future
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Last September, Lexi Thompson became the youngest player to win an LPGA event when, playing on a sponsor's exemption, the then 16-year-old prevailed at the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala. But she didn't just win the tournament. With a final-round 70, Thompson finished the 72-hole event 17 under par and five shots in front of runner-up Tiffany Joh. She shattered the LPGA age record for winning a multiple-round tournament, which previously was held by Paula Creamer, who won in 2005 at 18.
Although an LPGA bylaw requires tour players to be at least 18, Thompson petitioned the league for an age waiver and was granted fully exempt status for 2012. "Lexi is a unique talent who has continued to grow, develop and mature both on and off the golf course since turning professional in 2010," said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. "Her ability to handle the success and disappointment inherent to this game testifies to a level of maturity that I believe makes her capable of handling the emotional rigors of professional golf."
Golf observers were quick to ordain the youngster as the future of American women's golf, a player who will raise the LPGA's profile. But she insists that she's still a typical teen with an insatiable appetite for music, texting and Facebook who gets grounded -- "I've had my phone taken away," Thompson said with a giggle -- and does chores.
"I'm a normal teenager when I'm home," Thompson said. "I do laundry for my mom when she's at work. I unload the dishwasher."
Since turning professional at 15, she has played in 14 LPGA events, either through qualifying or on sponsors' exemptions. She followed the Navistar Classic victory by becoming the second youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event, capturing the Dubai Ladies Masters by four strokes in December.
"I'm just doing what I love," Thompson says. "Winning that tournament was a big bonus, but I've worked really hard my whole life."
Taking classes online and handling homework assignments around her golf schedule, Thompson is on schedule to earn her diploma this year.
"A lot of people do not get to follow their dreams," said her mom, Judy. "Some don't even know what their dreams are. She knows exactly what her dreams are."
Read more about Lexi Thompson at espnW.com.