May 16

Rookie Alison Lee on Top

First Time Rookie Alison Leading LPGA Event

I wondered today about the meaning of the word “Rookie.” It couldn’t have anything to do with the Rook on a chess board, because that’s a very powerful piece, and rookies are supposed to be the ones who don’t know what’s going on. There’s the phrase “I’ve been rooked,” which, I assume means that one has made a boneheaded move that suggests the same of experience as a rookie. So, being a rookie means lack of experience. I personally believe that lack of experience is a disappearing commodity, and that LPGA Rookie Alison Lee is proving it.

alison 1 The third round of the Kingsmill Championship is being played today. Granted, anything can happen in the first round, and maybe even the second, but by the third, “rookies” and other inexperienced types have usually been rooted out and sent packing, either home or to the bottom of the board. Alison Lee is, basically, a teenager, and she’s won a lot of events, but those were junior championships. She shouldn’t know how to do this at the LPGA Level. Granted, one of the juniors was a world championship, and Lee won the L.A. Junior three times, the last by shooting a 65. Still, until you do it on the tour, you haven’t…well, done it on the tour.

Lee is a Californian who lives in Valencia. I’m going to assume that it’s not the Valencia in Spain, but with today’s world, who knows?  She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2009 and 2010 which had to put her in a Lydia Ko sort of age group when she started winning LPGA tournaments. As a matter of fact, Lee played in the U.S. Women’s Open before she was old enough to attend high school. So, what are we supposed to do with the word, “Rookie” now? It seems to mean less and less every year.
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Alison Lee, as I understand it, was good at a lot of sports, but her father had an intense interest in getting her into the game of golf, offering her visits to Universal Studios if she’d go out and play – basically, bribes – good bribes. I would have picked up the bag and asked when we should start, too. Another thing about Lee caught my attention – she loves to chip more than anything else, certainly more than putting, where you “stand around” all day. She’s apparently pretty good at it. As I follow the third round, she’s still leading by three, sitting at minus 12, without a whole of bogeys going on. Picking up where she left off yesterday, she birdied3, 7, and 8, and is only now making the turn into the back nine.
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There is a pattern emerging here, for one rookie to make such a sensation can happen. We’ve seen it before. Besides, Lydia has desensitized us to adolescent greatness on the golf course. We’re harder to surprise. However, the closest contender to Lee is Minjee Lee of Australia, also a rookie, and could make the rest of the day and tomorrow a rough time for the leader. Not only that, but just behind Lee is Perinne Delacour, sitting at minus 8. She’s downright elderly at the age of 21. If you want to find a person who’s really been around the tour for a little while, you’ll have to scroll down and find Suzann Pettersen at minus 6.

Of course, things could change by tomorrow, and the last round is anybody’s guess, but the shock of a “rookie” excelling on the first day has suddenly expanded to lasting through the third, something we didn’t used to see very often. Now, we have a whole group of “superkids” still in the hunt. Even former prodigy Lexi Thompson is there, and I wouldn’t say she’s ready for coke bottle spectacles and a cane just yet. No, they don’t build rookies like they used to – they build them better.
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