Rick Tosches over at the Yahoo! Golf Blog tried to rip the LPGA for "disappearing" Stacy Lewis following the U.S. Women's Open. But he kept tripping over his punch lines.
I agree with his basic premise: Stacy Lewis is for real and the LPGA rule that declares non-member winnings at the U.S. Women's Open non-existent is stupid. But he gets so many details wrong along the way that he undermines his own case. (Special prize to the reader who gets the total right.)
It's just ridiculous to imply that the LPGA is trying to keep Lewis out, when there are so many ways for her to get her card for 2009.
First, she could win one of the remaining tournaments she gets into through a sponsors' exemption. She didn't do it at the NW Arkansas event, but why not the Farr this week or the Hawaii event in the fall? There are 3 more exemptions she could still get in addition to those, as she qualified for the Open. So that's up to 7 chances for her to win her way onto the tour--and more if she tries Monday qualifying at other events [Update: if, that is, non-members are allowed to try].
Next, if she plays well enough in the non-Open LPGA full-field events she gets into to match or surpass the 80th player on the money list, she gets her card for 2009.
If the LPGA route doesn't work out, she could also seek exemptions into Futures Tour events. Even if she can't catch 3-time winner Vicky Hurst, it shouldn't be too hard for her to get into the top 5 on the money list there (in a minimum of 6 events) and get her card that way. (She should play the FT as much as she can, anyway, for the experience alone).
If none of these routes work out, she could do the Q-School thing, where any number of great LPGA stars have started out. Ai Miyazato won 14 times in Japan, but she still had to go to Q-School. If Ji-Yai Shin can't win an LPGA event or win enough in the few she plays this season, she, too will have to go to Q-School, despite being in the top 10 in both the Rolex Rankings and Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. If Lewis is as good as we all think she is, Q-School will be no problem for her.
But there may be one other way for her (and Michelle Wie, for that matter), to get an LPGA membership. The Farr is the U.S. qualifier for the Women's British Open. The Ladies' Golf Union, which runs the WBO, says it's up to the LPGA to decide how to run their qualifier. Right now, the LPGA states that after Friday's round is complete, "the top five LPGA Tour members not already qualified will advance to play in the season's fourth major championship." Let's say Lewis and Wie do as well as or better than the 5 LPGA members--imagine the furor if yet another stupid LPGA rule kept them from playing in an Open Championship (and major) that they had played their way into. If the LGU doesn't bail the LPGA out by at least exempting Lewis and Wie into the Final Qualifier on July 28th, one way out for the LPGA would be to accept petitions for special membership from Lewis and Wie. Only problem there is that 2 current LPGA members who otherwise would be going to England would be bounced. Solution? The LPGA negotiates with the LGU to get the 6th- and 7th-place finishers at least into the Final Qualifier. [Update: Only problem for Stacy is she missed the registration deadline for the WBO, so the LGU would really have to bend the rules for her, unless they do that regularly for LPGA members at the Farr who haven't already qualified.]
Of course, this last option is moot if Lewis and Wie don't play well Thursday and Friday. But wouldn't it be interesting if they did?
[Update (6:49 pm): For background on Lewis, the Seoul Sisters thread on her is a good place to start.]