After a month of hard work to restore Plantation Golf and Country Club from damage Hurricane Ian left in late September, Stage II of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament finally completed on Sunday. In just under two months, Venice, Florida endured a category four hurricane and tropical storm, but that didn’t stop the community from giving the LPGA Tour hopefuls an opportunity to pursue their dreams.
“Honestly, when I heard Hurricane Ian was coming, I was a little unsure what was going to happen with Stage II,” said amateur, Ashley Lau. “We’re honestly very lucky to be here. I’m just really grateful.”
At the end, Seulki Lee and Becca Huffer walked away co-medalists at 4-under par. The two started the final round tied for 11th but showed strength in unfavorable weather and climbed to the top.
Lee started her 1-under final round with an eagle on No. 4. Despite the rain and wind, the Korean recorded a lone birdie on the front nine of the Bobcat Course to balance out two bogeys on the back. Her second bogey, on the last hole, came after returning from a weather suspension.
“The first thing is I'm so happy now, because, you know, today is such a tough day,” said Lee. “I told myself, please just do your job and just keep going. That eagle made my game today more easygoing.”
Like Lee, Huffer signed for a 1-under final round. The Colorado native carded three birdies on the day and was more than successful in accomplishing her goal for the week – advance to Q-Series.
“I love accomplishing my goal,” said Huffer. “And I’m especially glad for a day like today where the back nine was just rain and wind and nastiness that I put myself in the position to not have to worry too much about it. That was great, and I’m very excited to play at Q-Series.”
Just one stroke behind the leading duo was Anais Meyssonnier at 3-under par. Like Lee and Huffer, Meyssonnier climbed the leaderboard from T22 to solo third. The Frenchwoman carded four birdies and a lone eagle on the day and finished her round with an eagle, birdie and bogey respectively.
"I just tried to play my golf and hit my shots, shot by shot," said Meyssonnier. "I had two chip ins today, so it was crazy, because my chipping is normally not the strongest part of my game. But [today] it was, and I'm very happy with my round."
Of the 50 players advancing to Q-Series, 29 are Epson Tour members. Top finishers from the tour include Huffer (-4), Auston Kim (-2), Karen Chung (-1) and Pinyada Kuvanun (E).
“I'm so happy,” said Chung. “Last year I shanked my second shot here [on Bobcat Course No. 18] into the water and missed it by one or two [strokes]. That kind of hurt me for a bit, so to come back here and play way better than I did last year, I'm just happy.”
A total of 50 players shot 6-over or better and will advance to the two-week Q-Series in Mobile, Alabama from December 1-4 and Dothan, Alabama from December 8-11.
Kristen Gillman (+4) on the course conditions despite unfavorable weather:
“I think the course, considering all the weather they got over the last month or two, was in great shape. I know that they worked really hard to get it back to where we can play. I think the course is in great shape and it was fun to play.”
Selena Costabile (+2) on advancing to Q-Series:
“It feels good. It was a struggle today; the wind and the rain brought all the elements out today. I tried to stay in it even though my score wasn't great, but I'm coming out happy that I still made it.”