Monday, December 08, 2014




The LPGA Qualifying School Final stage is not quite over yet. Some players will be back at LPGA International, Daytona Beach, early Monday morning (Florida time) to complete a play-off which was halted by darkness.
Two of the top young players in the world proved they were ready for the LPGA Tour as UCLA sophomore Alison Lee (Valencia, California), who turned professional following her round, and Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 82 Minjee Lee (Perth, Australia) shared medalist honours at 10-under, 350, on Sunday at LPGA International. 
Alison Lee carded a final day even-par 72 while Lee posted a 1-over 71.
World Golf Rankings No. 91 Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand) posted a final day 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for third at 9-under with Spain’s Maria Hernandez (Pamplona, Spain), who closed with a 3-over 75.
A total of 19 players have earned LPGA Tour membership through Category 12 on the priority list while a total of 23 players including world No. 37 Charley Hull (Kettering, England) have earned membership through Category 17.
Seven players entered a three-hole aggregate stroke-play playoff for the final three spots in Category 12. After one player dropped out after the three-holes, Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Israel) and Garrett Phillips (St. Simon Island, Georgia) emerged after birdies on the first sudden death hole, the par-4 10th.
Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland), Casey Grice (College Station, Texas), Karlin Beck (Pike Road, Alabama) and former Loretto School pupil and past Scottish schoolgirls cham[opm Julie Yang (Garland, Texas) continued on in the sudden death play-off for the final spot before play was suspended due to darkness. 
Yang was eliminated with a bogey on the sixth play-off hole, third after the aggregate, while Meadow, Grice and Beck made par and the three will resume the sudden death playoff Monday at 7:30 a.m. on hole 18 of the Hills Course.
Lee made the expected yet difficult decision to turn professional immediately after signing her scorecard.
“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” said Lee. “When I made my par putt and realized I got my LPGA Tour card I was just filled with joy and when I got off and thought about what it meant to be professional I thought about my team and my school and my coaches and it made me sad. I get to start a new chapter in my life and hopefully it will be great and I’m really looking forward to the future.”
Minjee Lee, who turned professional at The Evian Championship this year, is also ready to begin her career.
“Now that I’m officially part of the LPGA Tour I feel really good,” said 18-year-old Lee. “I am relieved that I am finished and I am excited to play next year on the Tour.”
Alison Lee posted five consecutive rounds of even-par or better (71-70-67-70-72) while Minjee Lee’s only over-par round was Sunday (72-71-68-66-73).
Although Lee will now go from a college golfer to a professional in 2015, she expects to continue to study and support UCLA.
“I’m going to try and juggle school with golf at the same time,” said Alison Lee. “I still want to attend school so we’ll see how my schedule will work and we’ll see how it all plays out as the year goes on.”
For Minjee Lee, the week was filled with stress and she is just happy to be done.
“I am definitely relieved after this week and I never want to do Q-School again.”

Of the 19 players that earned membership through Category 12 on Sunday, 14 will be LPGA Tour rookies in 2015. Players in bold will be part of a tremendous 2015 rookie class.

1 Alison Lee (-10) T11 Cheyenne Woods (-5)
1 Minjee Lee (-10)  T11 Therese Koelbaek (-5)
T3 Ariya Jutanugarn (-9) T11 Perrine Delacour (-5)
T3 Maria Hernandez (-9) T11 SooBin Kim (-5)
5 Ryann O’Toole (-8) T11 Sakura Yokomine (-5)
T6 Sei Young Kim (-7) T11 Sophia Popov (-5)
T6 Simin Feng (-7) T11 Ju Young Park (-5)
T6 Ha Na Jang (-7)  T18 Laetitia Beck (-4, playoff)
T9 Nannette Hill (-6) T18 Garrett Phillips (-4, playoff)
T9 Kelly Shon (-6) 

Cheyenne Woods (Phoenix, Arizona), the niece of 79-time PGA TOUR winner, carded a 2-under 70 on Sunday to move from T32 to T11 to earn LPGA membership through Category 12 on the priority list.

After six pars to start her day, Woods made bogey on the par-3 seventh and got back to level par for the day with a birdie on the eighth. She made the turn at even-par. The 24-year-old made a birdie on the 13th and one more on the 16th to get to 5-under to avoid a 7-player playoff at 4-under.  
Woods, who was first off at 8 a.m., had to wait around to find out if she was inside the top-20.
“It was stressful (the waiting game), we were all refreshing our phones, but at the same time I knew I did everything I could,” said Woods. “It was a good position to be in.”
Woods had a busy 2014 season that started with a bang when she won the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters and now closes with an LPGA Tour card. In between, she played on the Ladies European Tour, the Symetra Tour and also five LPGA Tour events.
“It has been a roller coaster, the very first tournament I played in I missed the cut and then I won the next one,” said Woods, who is on her way to Dubai to play in another Ladies European Tour event. “In between my win and Q-School, I really didn’t play well so it was tough, but this was my overall goal and this was always what I had in the back of my mind so at the end of the day I am extremely happy.”
Woods had to fight back from a second-round 79 and that is what she was most proud of this week.
“I’m proud of my fight and my resilience and ability to not give up,” said Woods, who posted rounds of 67-71-70 to finish strong. “The biggest thing was I believed it would happen and fighting through that rough day to come out tied for 11th.”
Now, Woods gets to realize a dream.
“This has always been my dream,” said Woods of playing on the LPGA Tour. “Since I earned it this week, everything that I have been through makes this moment feel so good.”
Woods got a congratulatory call from Tiger an hour after she officially earned Category 12 status.
“He called me to congratulate me and told me how proud he was and excited for me,” said Woods. “That was pretty cool.”
This was Woods’ third attempt at LPGA Qualifying Tournament. In 2012, she didn’t advance past Stage I while in 2013, she advanced to Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, but missed the 72-hole cut.

Hyo Joo Kim, who won The Evian Championship and Kyu Jung Baek, who won the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship, have both accepted LPGA membership and will part of the 2015 LPGA rookie class. Kim currently ranks No. 9 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings while Baek ranks No. 11.

The 2015 LPGA Tour rookie class will include seven players in the top 100 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
No. 9 – Hyo Joo Kim (Category 7, Non-Member Win)
No. 11 – Kyu Jung Baek (Category 7, Non-Member Win)
No. 25 – Ha Na Jang (Category 12, Q-School)
No. 37 – Charley Hull (Category 17, Q-School)
No. 40 – Sei Young Kim (Category 12, Q-School)
No. 44 – Sakura Yokomine (Category 12, Q-School)
No. 82 – Minjee Lee (Category 12, Q-School)
No. 91 – Ariya Jutanugarn (Category 12, Q-School)

Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Isreal) had to work overtime to earn her 2015 LPGA Tour Card. The Duke grad found herself in a seven person, three-hole aggregate, play-off following 90 holes of golf. Things still weren’t decided after the three holes so Beck and five other golfers went into sudden death for three spots.

“I try to not put any pressure on myself,” Beck said. “When we were driving to the first play-off hole I was talking to the rules official and I asked him if even with the partial status if I would be considered an LPGA player and he said yes and I think that helped me a little. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be.”
No nerves showed as Beck sent her wedge from 132 yards to 18 feet and calmly sank the birdie putt to get out of the playoff and on to the LPGA Tour as the first player to represent Israel. 
“I don’t think I’m realizing it yet,” Beck said. “Every time that I do something great when it happens it feels natural. I’m really excited. I’m sure that my family and friends in Israel are excited too so I’m happy for me and I’m happy for them.”

Therese Koelbaek (Copenhagen, Denmark) expected to feel nerves with her LPGA future on the line the next morning but instead she felt a sense of calm.

“I wasn’t even nervous and I slept great last night,” Koelbaek admitted. “It was kind of weird. I was so tired and I thought how am I going to sleep and I just had the best night of sleep ever, I slept nine hours, and I felt great on the tee and really throughout the round I felt good.”
The good night’s sleep paid off as the Dane carded a 1-under round of 71, highlighted by a 36 foot bomb on the par-5 16th and a clutch five foot par save on 18, to finish at 5-under for the tournament to earn her 2015 LPGA Tour card with Category 12 status.
“It’s just awesome,” Koelbaek said smiling ear-to-ear. “It’s not digesting yet. I’m trying to stay calm but it’s going to be insane. I can’t even believe it, I’m an LPGA member.” 
Koelbaek missed most of the 2013 season with a back injury.

There are a total of 23 players, so far, that received LPGA membership through Category 17 on the priority list.

For perspective, Katy Harris finished T44 at Final Stage of Qualifying Tournament in 2013 and played in 11 LPGA Tour events in 2014.