The LPGA Qualifying Tournament is a mental and physical grind that stretches over five months, with 16 rounds and 288 holes played in that span. Miranda Wang, who finished first on the Women’s All Pro Tour (WAPT) money list, began that grind at Stage II in November. Thanks to that finish, the People’s Republic of China native was exempt into Stage II but her journey to the LPGA was almost short-lived.
Wang was dealing with a neck injury just two days before the first round and considered withdrawing from the tournament all together. After discussing her options with rules officials, the 23-year-old knew she’d have to make the best of the situation, push through the pain and use her off time to recover.
“Two days before the tournament started, in the practice round, it just felt like a cramp and I couldn't swing that day,” said Wang. “I immediately pulled myself out and I was not practicing that day. The day before the tournament I stayed in bed.
“It was pretty important for me to complete the 72 holes and Stage II because I didn't play Q-School last year,” said Wang. “I played on WAPT because I didn't have any tour status, either on Epson or LPGA. In my situation, there was a chance that I had to withdraw, but that wasn’t an option for me, so I just had to go through it.”
The first round of Stage II was not a pretty one for Wang, who shot a +5, 77 to put herself near the bottom of the leaderboard. Those who knew about the injury could tell she was in pain but to the average fan, it appeared like it just wasn’t her day. The next three rounds were kinder to the Duke University alumna, and she ultimately made the cut to advance to Q-Series two weeks later.
“I'm very proud of myself, because before playing Stage II I didn't know what's going to happen,” said Wang. “I shot 5-over on the first round. I was (in 121st) place, pretty far off from the line, and was not knowing what's going to happen. I just wanted to do my best and go as far as I could on the golf course. I was pretty proud of myself and hopefully things go well this week too.”
With the strenuous grind that is LPGA Q-Series and considering how close she is to her LPGA Tour card, Wang has not been able to address the injury with a doctor. The former Blue Devil plans to seek medical attention after chasing her dream this week, hoping it stays idle for the remaining four rounds and doesn’t get in the way.
The 2022 WAPT PXG Player of the Year has gotten a taste of life on Tour, playing a handful of events on the Official Qualifying Tour, the Epson Tour. She finished T9 in her Epson Tour debut at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic with a four-day total of 276 (-12).
“Playing professionally has always been my goal, and the LPGA is definitely my dream. Over the years I worked towards that, and this year I started playing some Epson Tour. I remember the first time I got an exemption to play Epson Tour,” said Wang. “I was just really happy (playing) on the Epson Tour, being professional, playing professional golf in the U.S.”
By pushing through her pain at Stage II of Q-School, Wang has secured Epson Tour status for the 2023 season. Making the cut after week one of Q-Series has elevated that status, while also giving the youngster a chance to play in the big leagues next season. Regardless of the results on Sunday, Wang will have a home on the professional stage next year, giving her a reason to celebrate, even with 72 holes left to play.
“Even if I don't finish in top 20 or top 45, I got Epson Tour status, so that's a relief for me,” said Wang. “Last year I didn't have anything, and this year by getting here I already got more than I wanted or expected.”