Hoping to earn 2012 LPGA playing status, those players will compete in a 90-hole tournament Wednesday through Sunday (Nov. 30 through Dec. 4) on both the Legends and Champions courses at LPGA International.
Each contestant will play two rounds on both the Legends and Champions courses. A tournament cut will be made to the low 70 scores and ties after 72 holes (four rounds). The final round will be played on the Champions Course.
The five-round tournament is the final event in the three-part annual qualifying tournament held to determine membership on both the LPGA and Symetra Tour (formerly known as the LPGA Futures Tour). This year is the first time the two tours have operated joint "Q-schools" and the first time all of the qualifying tournaments have been staged in the state of Florida - home to the LPGA.
Florida teenager Ginger Howard, medalist at the LPGA's Stage II Qualifying Tournament, will be in the final-stage field. She won the second stage of qualifying on the Bobcat Course in September at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., edging amateur Julia Boland of Tamworth, Australia by one shot. Boland played collegiately at Texas A&M University. Howard, a home-schooled high school senior, plays out of the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
A number of LPGA Tour members will return to the qualifying tournament to maintain or improve their playing status for next year. Among those players will be Dori Carter of Georgia, Meredith Duncan of Louisiana, Allison Fouch Duncan of Michigan, Nicole Hage of Florida, Kimberly Kim of Hawaii, Jennie Lee of Nevada, Lisa Meldrum and Samantha Richdale, both of Canada, and Jenny Suh of Virginia.
Several players who won on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour also will be in the field, such as Cathryn Bristow of Auckland, New Zealand, Valentine Derrey of Paris, France, who finished at No. 7 on the Futures Tour's 2011 money list, Brittany Johnston of Ohio, Stephanie Kim of New York, and Tzu-Chi Lin of Chinese Taipei, who finished 10th on the money list.
While Derrey, Lin, along with No. 8 Hanna Kang of South Korea, and No. 9 Jenny Gleason of Florida, all earned 2012 LPGA membership by finishing in the top 10 on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour money list, the four players will compete in the final stage of LPGA Q-school hoping to improve their status for 2012.
Other headliners in this week's qualifying tournament are: former Pepperdine University collegian and two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang of California, who became the first player in 15 years to win consecutive Women's Amateur titles (2010, 2011); UCLA's Brianna Do of California, winner of the 2011 Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, and Spain's Carlota Ciganda, a former All-American at Arizona State University and the 2007 Women's British Amateur Champion.
In addition, other top players in the field will be: Japan's Mitsuki Katahira, formerly ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) individual champion from Daytona State College; UCLA's Stephanie Kono of Hawaii, a 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup Team player and member of UCLA's 2011 NCAA Championship team; and Argentina's Victoria Tanco, winner of the 2011 Women's Western Amateur Championship.
Former Purdue University teammates Junthima Gulyanamitta of Thailand and Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Canada, also will be in the field. They were members of Purdue's 2010 NCAA Championship team. Gulyanamitta is the younger sister of former LPGA Tour player Russie Gulyanamitta.
Players finishing 1st-40th including ties will receive 2012 LPGA membership.
- LPGA senior writer Lisa D. Mickey