ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 11, 2011 – Ten LPGA Futures Tour players earned 2012 LPGA Tour membership today by finishing in the top 10 on the season-ending money list in the 2011 J Golf Race for the Card.
This year’s LPGA Futures Tour graduates are, in order of finish: 1. Kathleen Ekey of Sharon Township, Ohio; 2. Lisa Ferrero of Lodi, Calif.; 3. Mo Martin of Altadena, Calif.; 4. Sydnee Michaels of Temecula, Calif.; Jane Rah of Torrance, Calif.; 6. Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif.; 7. Valentine Derrey of Paris, France; 8. Hanna Kang of Seoul, South Korea; 9. Jenny Gleason of Clearwater, Fla.; and 10. Tzu-Chi Lin of Chinese Taipei.
The 2011 season is the thirteenth year in the 31-year history of the LPGA Futures Tour that players have been able to earn automatic exemptions onto the LPGA Tour and the ninth year that at least five LPGA memberships have been awarded. From 1999 to 2002, three exemptions were offered to top money winners. The 2011 season marks the fourth time 10 LPGA memberships were awarded.
Also today, the next 12 players on the Tour’s money list, excluding current LPGA Tour members, earned automatic entry into Stage III of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., set for Nov. 30 – Dec. 4. Those players, in order of finish, are as follows: Sophia Sheridan of Guadalajara, Mexico; Jackie Barenborg of Vero Beach, Fla.; Dawn Shockley of Estes Park, Colo.; Leah Wigger of Louisville, Ky.; Ashley Prange of Noblesville, Ind.; Yu-Ling Hsieh of Chinese Taipei; Cathryn Bristow of Auckland, New Zealand.; Cara Freeman of San Tan Valley, Ariz.; Brittany Johnston of Akron, Ohio; Veronica Felibert of Caracas, Venezuela; Jessi Gebhardt of Chandler, Ariz.; Mallory Blackwelder of Versailles, Ky.
“Dreams really do come true,” said Ekey, the Tour’s 2011 Player of the Year, who finished on top of the Tour’s season money list with single-season earnings of $66,412 on the heels of two victories. “I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to play on the LPGA Tour.”
Lisa Ferrero, a two-time winner on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour, finished second on the Tour’s money list with $58,808 in earnings.
“It feels awesome,” said Ferrero, the only member of the top 5 on the Tour’s 2011 money list who is a member of the 2011 LPGA Tour. “The ultimate goal is finishing in the top five. Now, I can plan where I’m playing next year.”
Mo Martin, a member of the LPGA Futures Tour since 2006, won the Eagle Classic this season and finished the year with $58,218, good for third on the Tour’s money list.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Martin, a three-time tournament winner on the Futures Tour. “This is a huge opportunity and it’s an honor to get my card.”
Sydnee Michaels, a two-time winner this season including this week’s Price Chopper Tour Championship, finished fourth on the Tour’s money list with $56,232.
“I looked at the card photos of the players who finished in the top 10 last year and I said, ‘If they can do it, I can it,’” said Michaels, the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour. “So I looked forward to the whole season and being able to hold my card over my head.”
Rounding out the top five with earnings of $46,669 was Jane Rah, a second-year member of the LPGA Futures Tour who recorded two runner-up finishes in 2011.
“I’m so relieved,” said Rah. “Thank God I don’t have to go to LPGA Q-School. It feels really good to be holding this card right now.”