At the end of the season, some LPGA and Epson Tour players are left disappointed and without status for the following season. The spot that stings most is the first player outside of the bubble – No. 11 on the Epson Tour’s Official Money List and No. 101 in the LPGA Tour’s Race to CME Globe.
Epson Tour winner Bailey Tardy fought hard until the end in pursuit of a coveted top-10 spot on the Money List and resulting 2023 LPGA Tour Membership. The former Georgia Bulldog, who is also a native of the Peach State, concluded the season with three top-5 performances in four weeks. A solo third at the Epson Tour Championship unfortunately wasn’t enough, and Tardy just missed out on Epson Tour graduation, ultimately finishing 11th in the 2022 Ascensus Race for the Card. It is the third time in three years she’s fallen a hair short of earning LPGA Tour status. (Tardy was No. 12 in 2021 and No. 6 in 2020 when only five cards were given due to a shortened schedule.)
Since that painful day at LPGA International, Tardy has dusted herself off, enjoying the golf she’s been playing of late. In mid-November, the 26-year-old traveled with her dad to California for the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, a unique event that features players from the PGA, LPGA and Korn Ferry Tours as well as from the PGA Tour Champions. Tardy finished T29 and the experience gave her a different perspective before heading to Alabama for LPGA Q-Series.
“It was just nice to be in competition mode, and obviously in Pebble Beach as well,” said Tardy. “I'm living in Orlando right now, so going out to Pebble gave me different weather and a different environment to practice and play. I haven't really played in cold weather, luckily, it's going to be pretty nice this week, but that was a benefit from going out there. I got a different atmosphere of weather, wind, fog, stuff like that.”
With her focus shifting to Q-Series, Tardy will try to ignore how stressful the upcoming eight tournament rounds can be. Instead, she thinks of it as two separate tournaments, which is easy compared to the four-week, end-of-season stretch she took on in September. Her plan is to stay positive, pace herself and surround herself with friends and fun while she’s not on the course.
“I'm going to play my golf, and if that's good enough to get my LPGA Tour card, then great,” said Tardy. “If I get beat by other people, then that's what happens. But I'm just going to go out there and try to play my best and play the game I know how to and see where that puts me in the pack.”
LPGA Tour rookie Dewi Weber was in the same boat as Tardy, finishing her inaugural season on Tour at No. 101 in the Race to CME Globe. The University of Miami alum, who previously spent time competing on the Epson Tour, said she had a hard time finding her way at the beginning of the season. By the time she found her groove and saw her game coming together, it was too late.
“I have mixed feelings about my season,” said Weber. “Obviously finishing 101st really sucks. There's really no other way to put it. But yeah, we're out here and just trying to better my status.”
Weber’s disappointment on the course was recently overshadowed by positivity in her personal life. The 26-year-old just got engaged to her longtime girlfriend, Jentrie, and while it won’t directly affect her swing or how she strikes the ball, Weber heads into Q-Series as happy as she’s ever been and will lean on the support of her new fiancée to help see her through this latest challenge.
“I'm in a really good place, I want to say mentally, like in my life. So that's obviously good,” said Weber. “My fiancée and I keep in touch every day honestly, and she asks me how it went on the course, and I'm like it either went well or it didn't. That's not because I don't want to talk about it, but it's because there are other more fun and more important things in life. So we talk about dumb stuff. I get daily pictures of my dog. We talk about what's for dinner.
“I make sure when I get to my AirBNB I put on a show or I go read a book, do a puzzle, whatever it is. Not really being that engaged in the scores or whatever is going on out here because I don't have that much influence over whatever is happening here. Off the course I try to just make it a fun week because it's freaking hard to make Q-School a fun week."
Although the Netherlands native was a rookie on the LPGA Tour this season, Weber considers herself a Q-Series veteran. Her past experiences in Alabama will allow her to take a “more chill” approach to the grueling two weeks. She knows it won’t be easy and is ready to fight for a top 10 finish but will be prioritizing having fun again on the golf course, final results aside.
“If I can be able to have fun during Q-school and I can enjoy playing golf, those are two things that are pretty key for me,” said Weber. “Not necessarily just for this week, but if I can do it in such a high-pressure situation, then I can probably do it next year more consistently than I did this year. If I can do that this week, I'd be pretty happy, probably regardless of the results.”