HOT 6 WINS Q-SERIES AND EARNS LPGA TOUR CARD
The final round of the inaugural LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was off to a chilly start, but KLPGA star Jeongeun Lee6 (-18) brought the heat on the last day shooting a 2-under par 70 to claim medalist honors and a $15,000 winner’s check.
“I was really surprised at how fast the speed of the greens were, it felt like I was playing a major,” said Lee, who is also known as ‘Hot 6.’ “It was a really difficult course for the players to be playing here. I really want to go home. It was a long 144 holes and it felt like it was never going to end but I finished well.”
126-hole leader Sarah Schmelzel carded a 4-over par 76 final round and fell two spots to finish in third place at 14-under par for Q-Series. Checking in at the runner-up spot is Jennifer Kupcho, just one stroke behind Lee6 after a 2-under par 70 performance today.
Meanwhile, Lee6 is going to make a quick turnaround after the grueling 144-hole Q-Series, traveling to make it back to South Korea for the KLPGA Final Championship, the last event for the Korean Tour this season.
“Next week is the last KLPGA event, I just want to prepare for that event because it’s really important and I just want to finish well on the KLPGA Money List.”
Joining Lee6, are 47 other players in the top-45 and ties receiving LPGA membership in Category 14 on the LPGA Priority List with the remaining competitors earning Epson Tour status.
SCHMELZEL REACHES LPGA DREAMS, FOLLOWING SORENSTAM’S FOOTSTEPS
Sarah Schmelzel’s father pulled her out of school on March 16, 2001 just days after her seventh birthday to watch golf. The fourth grader at the time left the classroom to watch the 2001 Standard Register PING at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona—a day that went down in history.
“I remember getting called to the front office at school and my dad said, ‘We’re going to the golf course.’ My dad had a friend out on the course that said, ‘You need to get Sarah out here, something special is happening. You got to come see this,’” said the now 24-year-old.
This was the day that Annika Sorenstam shot her historic 59 in the second round and went on to win the tournament, ousting golf legend from Republic of Korea Se Ri Pak by two strokes. Schmelzel etched that momentous day into her memory, attributing her love of golf to the impression that Sorenstam’s achievement made.
“Fourth grade me would’ve thought it was a million miles away,” said Schmelzel of becoming a professional golfer. “It’s pretty cool sitting here now with such a huge opportunity and it being so close. That was really a turning point for me in terms of what competitive golf looked like and how fun it could be and how intense it is. I would say, that was a huge turning point for turning me on to wanting to play golf all the time.”
Ranked No. 13 in the 2018 Volvik Race for the Card on the Epson Tour to earn exemption into Q-Series, the University of South Carolina alumna stood 144 holes away from reaching her dreams of earning a LPGA Tour card. After today, Schmelzel is one of 22 players that will go on to become 2019 LPGA Tour rookies.
“It’s crazy to think that I’ll be playing on the same type of stage that [Annika] was. She was the one I looked up to and I tried to emulate—anytime she was in Phoenix playing that tournament, I was watching all 18 holes. So it’s really cool that I’m so close to being in that role of being inside the ropes on such a big stage.”
Jeongeun Lee6 (1, -18) on how she earned the nickname ‘Hot 6’:
“Hot 6, last year I had a really great year and other players said that I was playing really hot. Also, there’s a drink in Korea called Hot6 so it kind of overlaps. But Hot 6 has a lot of caffeine in it and I won’t be drinking a lot of it.”
Jennifer Kupcho (2, -17) on finishing as the top amateur in the field:
“Just to come with all the college players and have a good showing for all of us, it really shows a lot about the college game. It gives an example to the younger players that they can really do it.”
Kupcho on her first impressions of playing on the LPGA Tour:
“Making money (laughs), I’m just really excited to play with all the really good players—just get to that next level, really make my game better.”
Sarah Schmelzel (3, -14) on finishing Q-Series and earning LPGA Tour status:
“I can’t really put it into words yet. Coming down the last three holes, it had been a bad round and I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but the goal was to get through here and get my card for next year. It’s pretty indescribable—thinking about all the hard work that’s been put in, my parents back at home in Phoenix. I can’t wait to see them and go hug them.”
Klara Spilkova (4, -11) on reaching her dream of making it to the LPGA:
“I think it means a lot for me. It was always my dream to do it. Another dream came true—I’m so lucky. I’m a very lucky person to be honest. So many good things are happening to me.”
Lauren Stephenson (T8, -4) on earning LPGA Tour status with teammate Kristen Gillman:
“I don’t even know what to say. I mean, if you would’ve told me that we would have both finished here, at the end of these two weeks, we would’ve both been ecstatic. Your dreams are coming true.”
Kristen Gillman (T13, +1) on earning LPGA Tour status with teammate Stephenson:
“I know we both didn’t play our best today, but luckily we played well all the other days. I think if you would’ve told us that at the beginning of the week that we would’ve be in the top-45 we would be happy, much less the top-15. I think that we’re both really excited to make it.”
- Eight of the 11 amateurs—Robyn Choi (Colorado), Maria Fassi (Arkansas), Kristen Gillman (Alabama), Jennifer Kupcho (Wake Forest), Jaclyn Lee (Ohio State), Lauren Stephenson (Alabama), Suzuka Yamaguchi (Japan) and Lilia Vu (UCLA)—finished inside the top-45 and ties mark of 10-over par.
- Of the 48 players inside the top-45 and ties, 22 would be 2019 LPGA Tour rookies.
- 18 different countries are represented by players inside the top-45 and ties (Republic of Korea, United States, Czech Republic, England, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Sweden, Scotland, China, Mexico, Israel, Japan, Germany, Italy, Thailand and Australia).