LPGA not on Thompson’s mind . . . yet

LPGA not on Thompson’s mind . . . yet


LPGA not on Thompson’s mind . . . yet

SEBRING, Fla. – When Alexis Thompson knocked in a 12-footer on the 18th green Wednesday to shoot 71, an IMG representative stood nearby. Agents don’t normally come to Sebring, where iced fairways pushed back tee times at the Harder Hall Invitational. Obviously, Thompson is special.

OK, Alexis, you’re probably tired of this question.

“College?” she asked.

Everyone knows that’s not happening.

(Thompson smiled.)

When do you plan to sign up for LPGA Q-School?

“Maybe at 17 I’ll try,” she said. “My dad does all the decision-making. I just show up and play.”

(This reporter’s guess is age 16 for Q-School. She’d be 17 when the 2012 LPGA season starts.)

The 14-year-old home-schooler is in the midst of a five-week amateur golf odyssey. She started the stretch with a victory at the Junior Orange Bowl in Miami, then finished runner-up at the Dixie Amateur. Frustrated with her final-round performance, she immediately went to instructor Jim McLean for a two-hour tune-up. The consensus: She has been swinging too much with her upper body and needs to get more on the right side.

Three of the five events are home games for Thompson. She has had several friends/competitors stay at her house in Coral Springs. This week’s slumber party is at her grandparents’ house in Sebring. Then she’ll move on to the South Atlantic Amateur (Sally) in Ormond Beach, followed by the Doherty Championship in South Florida, two tournaments she won last year.

Thompson prefers this hectic five-week run to a schedule that’s spread out.

“I actually like it better than practicing at home, because then I get a funk in my swing,” she said.

• • •


While Thompson hasn’t slowed down this holiday season, Cydney Clanton’s game was benched by the Carolina cold. Clanton, of Concord, N.C., came to Sebring to try and regain the momentum she had last fall at Auburn. She finished the semester No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings after winning the NCAA Fall Preview.

But Clanton, like several other players, also is thinking Curtis Cup. The college junior has a legitimate shot of landing a spot on the eight-player team, especially with a strong finish in Sebring. The team is expected to be announced in February.

Last summer Clanton advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s Amateur Public Links, the Sweet 16 of the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the final of the North & South Amateur.

Only two players from the victorious 2008 U.S. team have remained amateurs: Kimberly Kim and Meghan Stasi.

My picks: Jennifer Song, Alexis Thompson, Kimberly Kim, Jennifer Johnson, Candace Schepperle, Clanton, Jessica Korda and Stephanie Kono.

• • •

The college golf landscape in Florida is undergoing an overhaul. Whether the changes will fix what ails the Sunshine State schools is yet to be determined, but something needed to change.

The cumulative ranking for Florida’s five biggest programs (Florida, Florida State, UCF, USF and Miami) during the past 10 years is an embarrassing 49.56.

The facelift began last spring when Florida coach Jill Briles-Hinton was let go in May after the Gators failed to advance to the NCAA Championship. In July, Emilee Klein voluntarily left Central Florida to take over the reins at San Diego State. Then longtime Miami coach Lela Cannon announced in December that she will retire at the end of the season.

Now, Debbie Dillman is out at Florida State after 26 years. That the change came at midseason, after the Seminoles had an unexpectedly strong fall, comes as a surprise. But the last time Florida State appeared at an NCAA finals was 2006, when they finished 16th. A Tallahassee team should fare better.

With no assistant coach in place, the ‘Noles need to find an interim coach pronto. Classes began Wednesday, and the first tournament of the spring, the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, is Feb. 7-9.

The temperature in Tallahassee earlier this week matched the frigid temps in Alaska. Here’s a state prayin’ for a heat wave – and a hot streak in women’s golf.


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