by Dave Andrews.
159 players from 30 different countries will grind it out at the final stage of LPGA Q School coming up (December 2nd to 6th) in Daytona Beach, Florida. At stake are full status cards on the LPGA Tour for the 2016 season. Twenty LPGA cards will be awarded to the top 20 finishers at the end of the five-day tournament, played on the two courses at LPGA International Golf Club. This year it looks like a wide-open race for those 20 top spots. There are not many “sure things” but I’ve picked out four notables to watch in the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament.
Cheyenne Woods is probably the one name in the field that most women’s golf fans will easily recognize. Woods, who earned her LPGA rookie card last year at Q School, had a disappointing season this year. She played in 17 events but only made a total of $32,713 for the year. She finished this year’s season at #125 on the tour’s money list. That has earned her partial playing status for next year, but she would not get into many events with that status. That is why she and many other current members of the LPGA are returning to Q School. A top 20 finish this week will get them into all of the tour’s regular full field events, giving them many more opportunities to earn money.
LPGA player Belen Mozo of Spain is one of the other better-known names in the field. A five-year player on the tour Mozo finished the 2015 season in 101st place on the money list, earning only $67,935 in 23 starts. It was a disappointing season for her. She will have guaranteed partial playing status in 2016, but she will be hoping to improve to full status with a top 20 finish at Q School. (Video of Belen at the end of story).
18-year-old Megan Khang from Massachusetts is not a household name yet in the golf world, but she could very well become one. The teenager has had a stellar amateur career. She qualified for the last three U S Women’s Opens and finished 35th in this year’s competition. She helped lead the American team to victory over Team Europe this year in the Junior Solheim Cup. She is currently ranked 8th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark is among the long list of European players who will be going for their LPGA cards at the final stage of Q School. Larsen is currently in second place on the money list on the Ladies European Tour and is #73 in the women’s Rolex World Rankings. She won the Ladies European Tour’s Helsingborg Open in Sweden this year.
Past performances and well-earned reputations are no guarantees of success at Q-School. The grueling five-day event is a test of strong, solid, and consistent play. Veteran LPGA players will often say that the final stage of Q-School is the most nerve-wracking event they have played in. Where they will be playing over the entire upcoming season rides on how well they play during those five rounds. For some players it can make or break their careers.
Trying to predict the top 20 finishers at Q School is next to impossible. Every year a few players come out of nowhere to earn their LPGA cards, and every year some veteran LPGA players who are expected to do well have a bad week and lose their LPGA status.
1. Megan Khang (United States)
2. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Canada)
3. Madelene Sagstrom (Sweden)
4. Nicole Broch Larsen (Denmark)
5. Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Canada)
6. Doris Chen (United States)
7. Nannette Hill (United States)
8. Belen Mozo (Spain)
9. Simin Feng (China)
10. Stephanie Meadow (Northern Ireland)
11. Jackie Stoelting (United States)
12. Dottie Ardina (Philippines)
13. Madeleine Sheils (United States)
14. Katelyn Sepmoree (United States)
15. Lindy Duncan (United States)
16. Bertine Strauss (South Africa)
17. Jessica Wallace (Canada)
18. Cheyenne Woods (United States)
19. Haley Italia (United States)
20. Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Canada)
Dave Andrews is a retired television news reporter. He is also an avid golfer who has become a big fan and frequently caddies for the rising US and International golf stars of the LPGA and the Symetra Tour.
He is the author of Pops and Sunshine, a novel and screenplay about a young woman pro’s dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA.
The screenplay has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. The novel is available at Kindle Ebooks.
Follow Dave online on Twitter @PopsandSunshine.