Lexi withdraws from Venice qualifying

 As it turned out, Keith Struble was right.

 "I'll be surprised if she has to qualify here," Keith Struble said Tuesday. Struble is Plantation's director of golf, who is busy getting the Bobcat and Panther courses ready for 240 qualifiers.

Lexi Thompson's five-stroke, record-breaking victory in last weekend's Navistar LPGA Classic has the world of golf amazed and has area implications.

Thompson of Coral Spring is only 16, and she became the youngest winner in the 61-year history of the Tour.  On Wednesday, she withdrew from Stage II qualifying of the LPGA Tour. Thompson won the first stage by 10 strokes in July. But there are two more stages to pass, and Stage II is next week in Venice at the Plantation Golf and Country Club.

Practice rounds are Sunday and Monday for Stage II in Venice with the qualifying to begin on Tuesday.

Six area players are in the field at Venice, including Tatiana Gammicchia, Doris Chen, Ginger Howard, Victoria Tanco, Hannah Yun and Lindsey Bergeon.

Last year, Bradenton's Jessica Korda advanced through the LPGA qualifying process and earned her tour card.  She has won $48,997 and ranks 91st on the money list. She played 14 events.

This is the 23rd year qualifying has been held at Plantation. Annika Sorenstam and some of the biggest names on the LPGA Tour have advanced through Plantation.

The age record Thompson broke was held by Marlene Bauer Hagge, who won the Sarasota Open at Sara Bay Country Club in 1952.  Hagge was 18 years, 14 days when she won the 1952 Sarasota Open, an 18-hole event.  Marlene and her sister, Alice Bauer, once lived just off the course at Sara Bay.

Prior to Thompson's victory, the youngest winner of a multi-round event on the LPGA Tour had been Paula Creamer, who captured the 2005 Sybase Classic when she was 18 years, 9 months and 17 days. Creamer moved to Bradenton when she was 13-years old to attend David Leadbetter's Junior Golf Academy.

But that isn't the only record Thompson has broken. In 2007, she became the youngest qualifier for the U.S. Women's Open at the age of 12.
That same year she won the 32nd Junior PGA Championship to become the youngest winner in Junior PGA Championship history.

Thompson, who went on to win a second Junior PGA Championship title in 2009, had already become the youngest to ever compete in the Championship in 2005, when she was only 10-years-old.

In 2009, the then 16-year-old Thompson cruised to a 12-stroke triumph, one stroke off the all-time record, closing with a final-round 5-under-par 67 and 272 total. Thompson's rout trails only Debbie Hall, who posted a 13-stroke victory in 1977.


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