PINEHURST, N.C. — The second annual LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina returns to Pinehurst Resort from Oct. 23-Nov. 2, highlighted by a 98-player field preparing for a 144-hole cumulative stroke play format in the Sandhills Region of North Carolina.
Individuals will compete in a total of eight rounds over two, four-day segments with the top-45 finishers and ties receiving Category 14 membership on the LPGA Tour Priority List for 2020. Competitors outside top-20 also earn Category C status on the Epson Tour. A cut to the top-80 and ties is set after the sixth round and the unofficial purse of $150,000 will be distributed at the event’s completion.
During week one of Q-Series from Oct. 23-26, the first four rounds will be contested on the George and Tom Fazio-designed Pinehurst Course No. 6. The second week of play moves to Jack Nicklaus-designed Pinehurst Course No. 9 for the last four rounds from Oct. 30-Nov. 2.
“It all comes down to Q-Series as the final stop in the Q-School process to determine LPGA and Epson Tour status for 2020,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, Chief Operations Officer of the LPGA Tour. “There’s a handful of players who started at Stage I and worked their way here. There’s also a number that earned automatic exemption to Pinehurst Resort based on their performance on either Tour during the season or how they are positioned in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Regardless, it is going to be a fun and challenging two weeks of golf with many dreams coming true at the end.”
A long and rich history of women’s golf echoes through the hallowed forests of Pinehurst. It has hosted the Women’s North & South amateur since 1903 with past champions including legends such as Louise Suggs, Estelle Lawson Page and Peggy Kirk Bell, as well as more recent LPGA major winners Yani Tseng, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Danielle Kang. As for the inaugural Q-Series, Jeongeun Lee 6 claimed medalist honors and went on to become a Rolex First-Time winner at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.
Hoping to follow their footsteps is 37 players who finished from No. 101-150 on the current-year LPGA official money list and 22 from No. 11-35 on the Epson Tour official money list. One member from the top-75 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings also earned exemption into Q-Series, while 38 players who advanced from Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament round out the field
“Beginning this journey out in Southern California a couple months ago and reaching this opportunity to secure what I’ve always dreamed of is surreal,” said Bianca Pagdanganan (Quezon City, Philippines), one of 14 to advance to Q-Series that started at Stage I. “It is very satisfying to be in the small percentage of individuals who have come so far, but also leaves me wanting more knowing there’s still work to do.”
Action begins at 7:50 a.m. ET all eight days. After 36 holes, players will be re-paired by score and stay with the same group for both the third and fourth rounds. The low score wave goes off in the morning of round three and afternoon of round four. Meanwhile, the high score wave follows the same method, but opposite the low score.
Players will again be re-paired by score after 72 holes and stay with the same group for both the fifth and sixth rounds. The high score wave goes off in the morning of round five and afternoon of round six, while the low score wave follows the same method only opposite the high score. Finally, players will be re-paired by score after 108 holes and 126 holes with leaders off No. 1 tee last in both the seventh and eighth rounds.
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF Q-SERIES
A total of 24 countries are represented at LPGA Q-Series, led by the United States with 46 players then followed by the Republic of Korea at the next highest of seven competitors.
“To be surrounded by friends and familiar faces that I’ve played with since junior golf is a good feeling in this type of competitive environment,” said Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea), who finished the Epson Tour season 12th in the Volvik Race for the Card. “With so much on the line, any added bonus of comfort really helps. I can’t wait to get started in a couple days and wish all the best to everyone in the field, especially my fellow Koreans.”
Individuals from 21 different states are also set to tee it up in Moore County. Five players hail from the host state, while California boasts the most with 11.
“Breathing in the crisp North Carolina air is always great and there’s nothing like fall golf at Pinehurst,” said Katherine Perry (Cary, North Carolina), who made six starts on the Epson Tour this year and also played in 13 LPGA events. “I was born and raised in the Tar Heel State, so coming back as a professional is special. This year was interesting and I reached a lot of goals, but the biggest one is still in front of me to gain full LPGA Tour status. It would be incredible to achieve that where I started the game and having family here to support throughout.”
BALANCING ACT BY ROHANNA LEADS TO Q-SERIES BERTH
Once the final putt dropped on Oct. 6 at the Epson Tour Championship, Rachel Rohanna (Marianna, Pennsylvania) put the clubs in the trunk, got 16-month old daughter Gemelia tucked in the car seat and drove off to Venice, Fla. with her mother Debbie occupying the passenger side. As the only mom on the Epson Tour, this was a weekly ritual for Rohanna traveling with Gemelia from one tournament venue to the next.
Except this time, something would be different about the end to this event. Rohanna finished tied for fourth to climb 11 spots to No. 34 in the final Volvik Race for the Card standings and secure her place in the LPGA Q-Series field. After learning of the results halfway through the drive, she reversed course and headed north. It was time to go home.
“Huge relief,” said Rohanna, referring to the finish that helped her avoid Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. “I had been playing really well, so I was confident going into Stage II, but to be able to save all that money and secure a spot in Q-Series took a ton of weight off my shoulders. The season went fast for me and doing so many events in a row made them fly by. I went back to PA, saw family and put time in with my swing. I had a small tweak in August and just finally started to get comfortable with it.”
Having already created so many memories on the road with Gemelia in her first full season as a mother, Rohanna is determined to continue a healthy balance between fun and competition. She plans to take her little one out trick-or-treating in Pinehurst for Halloween during the second week of Q-Series. From keeping the LPGA dream alive to making sure Gemelia is cared for, it all would not be possible without help from family including Debbie and mother-in-law Kim Virgili, who watches Gemelia when she’s away from Rohanna.
“Being a mom is challenging enough sometimes, but being a traveling and working mom can be difficult, especially only one of my peers on the Epson Tour juggling the two,” Rohanna said. “I’ve done more traveling than ever in my career to make things easier on me and Gemelia from going back and forth to home to see her, or going home to take her to another event. To be where I am at this point in the year is exactly what my goal was at the beginning of having the best opportunity to play on the LPGA full-time again next year.”