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LPGA make exception for Morgan Pressel

The LPGA Tour made an exception Monday for 17-year-old Morgan Pressel, accepting her as a member instead of making her wait until she turns 18 three months after the season begins.

The decision means that Pressel, a senior honor student at St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, Fla., can play wherever she is eligible and have her earnings count on the money list and toward the LPGA Tour's new playoff system that splits the year in two parts.

"This is good news," said her grandfather, Herb Krickstein. "We've very happy about it."

Former commissioner Ty Votaw rejected Pressel's petition in June that she be allowed to join the LPGA Tour, if she qualifies, before turning 18. A week later, Pressel was runner-up at the U.S. Women's Open after Birdie Kim holed an improbable bunker shot on the final hole.

Pressel went on to dominate the field in winning the U.S. Women's Amateur. She made the cut in all seven LPGA events she played last year, and easily earned her card at LPGA Tour qualifying school two weeks ago.

She asked the LPGA to reconsider the day after Q-school.

"Morgan is an exceptionally talented young player who will be a terrific addition to the 2006 LPGA Tour," commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. "She presents a unique combination of academic and golf achievements, and I am impressed with Morgan's abilities."

Bivens said Pressel, who will graduate in May, has shown in the last six months that she could perform on the course and take on the rigors of travel and competing throughout the year. She also said the tour received numerous letters supporting Pressel.

Krickstein said among those who sent unsolicited letters were the executive director of the American Junior Golf Association and the headmaster of St. Andrews School.

Pressel becomes the second teenager to receive an exemption from the LPGA's age limit. Votaw allow Aree Song to join at age 17 two years ago, although she had already graduated high school.

Michelle Wie, 16, a junior in high school, is not expected to join the LPGA Tour until she turns 18.

Pressel said in a statement she was thrilled with the decision.

"I can't wait for the season to start, to be able to fully compete and be a part of the rookie race," Pressel said, noting that she would have lost three months accruing points toward rookie of the year.

Pressel likely won't play more than a half-dozen times before she graduates because of demands at school, although Krickstein said she might start the season in Hawaii at the SBS Open because "that's not a bad place to be."

She already has received a sponsor's exemption to the Safeway International in Arizona.

December 20, 2005

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