Morgan Pressel received an answer from LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw regarding her petition to go to Q-School. There was good news and bad.
Votaw told Pressel July 13 that he will allow her to enter Q-School this fall as a 17-year-old but, should she earn exempt or conditional status, she would have to wait until she turns 18 on May 23 to begin her status as a tour member. The decision effectively would reduce Pressel’s tour schedule by one-third and would put more pressure on her to earn enough money to retain her card for 2007. Ten events were played on this year’s schedule before May 23.
“I’m disappointed,” Pressel told Golfweek July 14. “I felt that I deserved to play full time next year, apparently he didn’t think so. I don’t see how I could be a bad thing for the tour; I think I could be a very good thing.”
The LPGA waived the age rule for Aree Song in 2003 when she was 17. Carmen Bandea, 15, and In-Bee Park, 17, also have petitioned the LPGA for a waiver this year. Bandea’s request was denied, and Votaw has not yet ruled on Park’s petition. (Park shot 78-73 last week at the LPGA’s Canadian Women’s Open and missed the cut by four.)
“We feel the 18-year-old age limitation is a good rule,” Votaw said. “If we’re ever going to make an exception, we will do so only in extraordinary circumstances. In the case of Morgan, we felt that the timing of her attempting to qualify warranted a waiver. But, we made the further condition that if she were to qualify we could withhold membership until she turned 18 and has graduated from high school.”
Pressel, Golfweek’s top-ranked junior and amateur, still has the option of turning professional at the beginning of 2006 and playing as a nonmember before May 23.
Under that scenario she could play six events with sponsor exemptions, but the money earned in those events would not count toward earnings once she becomes a tour member. However, if Pressel makes enough money on those six sponsor exemptions to rank among the top 90 at the end of 2006, she would be given her tour card for 2007.
“It doesn’t make much sense to me,” Pressel said.
Votaw told Pressel that he wanted her to graduate from high school before joining the tour. Pressel is an honors student at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Fla., and is scheduled to graduate May 20. Votaw said part of the reason he gave Song the go-ahead in 2003 was because she had graduated from high school.
“We felt with weighing the circumstances in Morgan’s case,” Votaw said, “that this was the way for us to go.”
Said Pressel: “The bottom line is that when you have someone younger who can play, you ought to let them out there. I know I can play out there.”