by Dave Andrews.
LPGA Cards Hang in the Balance
With just six events left on the Symetra Tour schedule every score in every round will become more important for those players in the battle to earn their LPGA tour cards for the 2016 season. Every dollar earned could make the difference between fulfilling a life-long dream and having to try all over again to reach the pinnacle in women’s professional golf.
The next event up on the tour’s schedule, the GreatLIFE Challenge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Sept. 3rd– 6th), will have a huge bearing on the season’s final results. The event’s $210,000 purse is the largest of the season on the tour, nearly twice as big as most of the events this season. The winner will take home $31,500.
If one of the players currently ranked in the money list’s top 20 should win in Sioux Falls, she would almost certainly guarantee herself of finishing the year in the all-important Top 10. The ten highest finishers on the money list at the end of the year will automatically earn their LPGA cards for 2016.
Heading into the big event in Sioux Falls next week the player currently ranked 10th on the money list, Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Canada, has earned just over $40,300. The leader on the list, Lee Lopez of California, has made over $53,600. Even Lopez is not yet guaranteed of earning her LPGA card. Depending on who does what in the final six events, it’s estimated it could take over $55,000 in earnings to finish the season in the 10th spot.
From Sioux Falls the tour will head to two events in Kansas, one in Arkansas, and then return to Florida for the final two events of the year. The season will culminate in mid-October at LPGA International Golf Club in Daytona Beach, home of the Symetra Tour and LPGA headquarters. There the 2016 LPGA cards will be awarded to the top 10 finishers on the season money list following the final round of the $150,000 Symetra Tour Championship.
Here are the players (with their earnings as of 08/25/2015) currently in the top 10 spots on the Symetra Tour’s money list.
1. Lee Lopez (USA) $53,642.00
2. Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico) $53,424.00
3. Giulia Molinaro (Italy) $52,630.00
4. Daniela Iacobelli (USA) $51,077.00
5. Annie Park (USA) $47,394.00
6. Augusta James (Canada) $46,235.00
7. Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu (China) $45,801.00
8. Lindy Duncan (USA) $41,051.00
9. Casey Grice (USA) $40,382.00
10. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Canada) $40,359.00
Two years ago a player who was inside the top 10 on the money list failed to make the cut in the tour’s final event of the season, and she missed earning her LPGA card by only $109. The pressure will increase dramatically for every player in the hunt as the final events wind down. The short putts for birdie or to save par will start looking longer with the passing of each round towards the end of the season.
There are only two principal ways for a player to earn her LPGA card. Finishing in the Top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list is one of them. The other is making it through the LPGA’s qualifying school process. Many of the players on the Symetra Tour will be playing in the second stage of “Q School” in October. The first stage was played earlier this month in Rancho Mirage, California.
Players who advance through the first and second stages will compete in the final stage in the first week in December at LPGA International in Daytona Beach. The final stage is a grueling five-day event, played on the two courses at LPGA International. The top 20 finishers will earn full status LPGA cards for 2016, joining the ten players who earned their cards through the Symetra Tour. The next 25 finishers at Q School’s final stage will earn limited status cards for the LPGA’s 2016 season.
*Feature Photo: Maude-Aimee Leblanc – 2015 Mission Health Wellness Classic (Dave Andrews).
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.