Nine rising stars
The word "youngest" pops up a lot in stories about Thompson. At 12, she was the youngest golfer to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. At 16, she was the youngest to win an LPGA event, the 2011 Navistar Classic. By then, she was already a pro, competing in 14 events and finishing top-10 three times last year. She would have played more if the LPGA had let her, but rules prohibit anyone under 18 from going full-time. That is, until Thompson petitioned for an exemption. This year, the 17-year-old is working a full slate, and fitting right in. With her 6-foot frame, Thompson unleashes average drives of 270 yards, fourth-longest among the grown-ups. One of those monster strokes reportedly prompted practice partner Jack Nicklaus to say, "Wow, that was pretty nice."