Thursday
Jun172010

Will Alexis Thompson Be The Next 'Tigress' Woods

Alexis Thompson arrived at the ShopRite Classic in Red Bull style. (Photo: PRNewsFoto/Red Bull, Francois Portmann)June 17, 2010: People keep looking for the next Tiger Woods, at least the one whose prowess on the golf course has rewritten the sports history books. They might need to look at golf's distaff side for the answer.

Alexis Thompson, the No. 1 women's amateur player in the world who at 12 became the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, has turned professional at the age of 15 following a storied amateur career and has signed deals with Red Bull and Cobra-Puma Golf.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Analysts put the two deals at about $2-$3 million. She is handled by Bobby Kreusler of Blue Giraffe Sports, Atlanta.

As part of what was called a "long-term partnership" with Cobra-Puma, Thompson will wear Puma golf shoes and apparel, use Cobra golf clubs and will be featured in upcoming marketing campaigns, consumer and trade events.

Red Bull did not detail Thompson's role. It is expected she will appear in marketing and experiential campaigns along the lines of other Red Bull endorsers such as Olympic stars Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn, Rajon Rondo of the NBA's Boston Celtics, Reggie Bush of the NFL defending Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints and action sports star Travis Pastrana.

Should she continue her winning ways as a pro, analysts indicate that Thompson could greatly expand her marketing roster to include endorsements in such categories as clothing, jewelry, electronics, food and health and beauty.

“[Alexis'] style and groundbreaking performance on the course make her the perfect Cobra and Puma Golf representative,” Bob Philion, President of Cobra-Puma Golf. said in a statement. “Our brands are well suited to her game right now and are poised to progress with her career in the future, while she develops as a professional golfer.”

Thompson's pro debut brings much-needed positive attention to the LPGA at a time when the Tour has lost several sponsors and is down to 25 events (from 31 in 2009), with 14 in the U.S. (down from 20 last season). No. 1 player Lorena Ochoa retired in April, about two years after Annika Sorenstam, the biggest money-winner in LPGA history, retired.

Thompson makes her debut as a pro at the 2010 LPGA ShopRite Classic in New Jersey June 18-20. She also is expected to play at the 2010 Women’s U.S. Open July 8-11 at the Oakmont (Pa.) CC. According to BGS, "Lexi will play a limited schedule on the LPGA and Ladies European Tours including starts at the Shoprite LPGA Classic, CN Canadian Women's Open and the P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Wal-Mart, with additional events to be announced in the near future."

Michelle Wie, who turned pro in 2005 at the age of 16 amidst much fanfare and sponsorship backing, is also playing at the LPGA ShopRite Classic. Wie is the top money-maker on the LPGA tour as far as endorsements, earning about $12-$15 million from deals with McDonald's, Kia, Nike and Omega.

“I am proud to represent Cobra and Puma Golf,” Thompson said in a statement. “Not only do both brands make great, technically advanced products that will help me play better on the course, but I’ve always loved them both for their edge and style."

Regarding Red Bull, Thompson said,  "I've always felt Red Bull was a fun brand because they push the limits and don't do things in a traditional way," said Lexi. "I look forward to putting my new wings to use both on and off the course."

Thompson, from Coral Springs, Florida, was named Golfweek's 2009 Women's Amateur Player of the Year and the 2009 Junior Girls Player of the year. Along with being the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, she has represented her country in the Junior Ryder Cup and Junior Solheim Cup, and in 2009 was the youngest winner ever of the Junior PGA Championship.

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