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Pressel turns pro, still hoping for LPGA status in '06

11/17/2005 - Golf

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Morgan Pressel turned pro Thursday, two
weeks before the 17-year-old goes through the final stage of
Q School and six months before she's old enough to join the LPGA
Tour.
Pressel, however, has not given up hope that she can be an LPGA
member before her 18th birthday.
If she gets her card through qualifying school Dec. 1-5 in
Daytona Beach, her grandfather said they would ask the LPGA to
reconsider its policy that players cannot join the tour until they
are 18.
"If she doesn't get through Q School, it's irrelevant," Herb
Krickstein said at St. Andrews Country Club, where Pressel
announced she had signed with IMG. "If she gets through Q School,
we might revisit the issue and consider other options."
Asked to elaborate on other options, Krickstein smiled and said,
"I don't know."
Pressel, who turns 18 on May 23, in June petitioned the LPGA
Tour to waive its minimum age policy. A week later, she finished
second in the U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills when Birdie Kim
holed an improbable bunker shot on the 18th hole.
Pressel won the U.S. Women's Amateur two months later, and
became the first player to sweep the five biggest events on the
American Junior Golf Association circuit.
The LPGA Tour denied her request, but allowed her to go through
Q School instead of making her wait one year. She can play up to
six tournaments on sponsors' exemptions until she can join May 23,
although whatever money she earns will not count toward the money
list.
LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens was in meetings Thursday
and not available for comment, although her staff said she was
unlikely to make an exception. Pressel's petition was denied by
then-commissioner Ty Votaw, and supported by Bivens, who took over
in September.
Bivens will be hosting a forum Dec. 7 in New York called
"Phenoms to Professionals," in David Stern of the NBA and Gary
Bettman of the NHL will join a dozen other commissioners to talk
about teenagers turning pro.
Pressel was asked what she would say if she had a voice on the
panel.
"They should consider that if somebody is ready to play, ready
to compete, then there should be no problem with it. It shouldn't
be an issue," Pressel said. "Let the families decide how they
want the careers to progress."
Krickstein has some experience with prodigies. His son, Aaron
Krickstein, was the youngest player at age 16 to win on the ATP
Tour, and at 17 became the youngest player to be ranked in the top
10.
"I don't know if you can compare young female tennis players or
young female golfers who mature very fast ... to 15-year-olds that
might want to play in the NBA," Krickstein said. "I don't think
they're comparing apples to apples. It's an individual sport. And
we're talking about women. They mature faster than boys."
Pressel, an honors student who will graduate three days before
her 18th birthday, is the second female golfer in as many years to
skip college.
Paula Creamer was 18 when she turned pro last year. Having
finished her high school requirements one semester early, she won
Q School by five shots, then won the LPGA rookie of the year award
this year after winning twice and finishing second on the money
list.
Pressel and Creamer competed often in junior golf, which gives
Pressel extra confidence.
"I knew she was going to play well," Pressel said.
"Obviously, seeing her play well and having competed with her, I
knew I'd be able to ... I don't want to say do the same thing, but
I knew I'd be able to go out and do well."
The first step was turning pro, a low-key affair compared with
Michelle Wie's splashy announcement in Honolulu last month. Pressel
has not signed an equipment deal or any other endorsements, saying
they were would be an announcement within a couple of weeks.
She had her agent, Sherry Whay of IMG, to her left and her
grandfather to her right, but Pressel did most of the talking while
moderating the press conference, and she handled it smoothly.
"My goal is to win Q School," she said. "Then, my goal is to
win as many times as I can and finish as high on the money list. I
know it's going to be hard."