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Pressel becomes latest teen to turn pro

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Make way for the LPGA's next teen queen.

IMG representatives have scheduled a media breakfast Thursday in Boca Raton, Fla., where Morgan Pressel will announce her plans to turn professional and join the International Management Group's client stable.

Pressel, 17, makes the expected leap two weeks before she competes in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, a 90-hole exam she petitioned former commissioner Ty Votaw to play. Votaw allowed Pressel to try for her tour card but ruled she would have to wait until she turns 18 on May 23 before becoming an LPGA member. That's provided she survives the final qualifying tournament Nov.30-Dec.6 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. The top 30 plus ties gain full status for next season as the future stars -- and rivalries -- begin to align for the LPGA tour.

Michelle Wie, 16, turned pro last month and appeared headed for a fourth-place finish at the Samsung World Championship before she was disqualified for taking an improper drop. Although she doesn't intend to play the LPGA Tour full time until she's 18, Wie is expected to play six or eight events on exemptions in 2006.

Among those joining Pressel at the qualifying final: Brittany Lang, 20, and Japanese star Ai Miyazato, 20.

In June as a 19-year-old amateur, Lang tied for second with Pressel at the U.S. Women's Open and turned pro shortly afterward.

If Pressel can win the qualifying tourney, she'd one-up one of Paula Creamer's accomplishments. Creamer was 18 last year when she became the youngest player and first amateur to win the qualifying final.

Creamer, 19, has set a torrid pace for the next generation to follow. She notched two LPGA victories (adding two titles in Asia) and ranks second on the money list behind Annika Sorenstam with $1.495 million heading into this week's season-ending ADT Championship.

Pressel, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champ, declined comment about Thursday's announcement. She recently finished her amateur career by winning her third Florida 1A state title for the St. Andrews School and believes her game is ready for the qualifying final.

"There's no pressure, other than what I put on myself," Pressel said Tuesday. "I want to make it, and I want to do well. I want to go into this looking to win. I went into the first stage a little too tentative, and it showed."

Pressel struggled early and hovered near the cut line at first stage but rebounded with a final-round 63 to easily advance in the LPGA Sectional Qualifying in September at Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"It proved to me I could play like that under pressure when I needed to," she said.

Pressel made seven appearances on the LPGA tour and cracked the top 25 in each one. Had she been allowed to accept prize money, she would have won more than $400,000 and would be ranked 32nd on the money list.

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