Teenage prodigy Alexis Thompson's request to play more frequently on the LPGA Tour through sponsor's invitations has been denied, commissioner Mike Whan said on Friday.
The 15-year-old American had petitioned the Tour for 'limited membership' and a doubling in sponsor exemptions from six to 12.
After careful consideration ... I have decided to deny that request for 2011, Whan said in a statement.
Lexi has remarkable skills for a 15-year-old, and if she continues to grow and develop, I believe that she should have a great future both on and off the golf course.
This season, Lexi still will be able to secure up to six sponsor exemptions for LPGA-sanctioned events, and also may choose to pursue additional playing opportunities through our 'open' Monday qualifier format.
Whan had to balance Thompson's petition against the needs of the Tour's rank-and-file players, many of whom now struggle to compete in as many as 12 events each season because of limited fields and the economic downturn.
There are only 25 events on this year's schedule, with 13 of them being held outside the United States. The 2008 LPGA Tour comprised 34 events.
Those (rank-and-file) players can't make a living, American world number two Cristie Kerr told reporters at the end of last year. The economic landscape that we're in right now doesn't allow that to happen. We're not in 1994 any more.
Thompson, who as a 12-year-old became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, made her professional debut last June at the ShopRite LPGA Classic where she missed the cut.
The following month, she tied for 10th in the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont before producing her best finish of the season two weeks later with a tie for second at the Evian Masters in France.
She competed in eight events last year, six through sponsor exemptions and two via qualifying.
After her precocious debut at the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, Thompson qualified again the next three years, and was a triple gold medal winner (individual, team, total team) at the Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship, matching the success of Paula Creamer (2003) and Lorena Ochoa (2001).