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Changes coming to LPGA Q-School
25 Oct 2016
by Golfweek

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LPGA commissioner Mike Whan <br>(Golfweek Photo)
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan
(Golfweek Photo)
(October 25, 2016) -- College golf coaches have endured a love/hate relationship with LPGA Q-School since USGA rules changed to allow amateurs access to the annual qualifier. It’s where dreams are both dashed and realized at the same time: A top-tier player gets a tour card, while a top-tier college team loses its star before the postseason.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan’s new vision will change that. Plans are in the works to replace LPGA Q-School with a Qualifying Series, Whan told Golfweek.

Rather than have three stages spread out over the course of five months, a two- or three-week series will be played in the fall in the United States during the LPGA’s Asian swing. Scores would carry over week to week, and Whan hopes to have at least the last three rounds of the final week televised. The series would take place in the same market at different venues.

Whan said the tour is in the final stages of talks with a potential sponsor, and if the deal can be locked down in the next month the changes will be implemented next year. Worst case, 2018.

Simin Feng won the 2015 LPGA Q-School and earned $5,000. If a player competed in all three stages this year, it would cost $5,500 in entry fees alone at tournaments that spread from coast to coast. Losing money at Q-School is practically a given. Whan wants to change that.

“To me, it’s your first LPGA event,” he said. “I want it to feel like an LPGA event.”

If a player wanted to come out of college and get her LPGA card, she first would have to go to a resurrected Symetra Tour Q-School and defer her status. Then, she’d come out after the postseason and try to finish in the top 25 or 30, which is possible for elite players. This year, Alabama’s Emma Talley competed in 14 events after the NCAA Championship and finished 26th on the Symetra money list.

The top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list still will earn their cards, but the next set of players (number to be determined) will move on to the Q-Series, where they will meet the LPGA players who finished outside the top 100. There will be other ways for international superstars to get into the Q-Series, but that will be spelled out at a later date.

The second stage of this year’s LPGA Q-School finished Oct. 23, and among those to advance to the final stage were Duke’s Leona Maguire and UCLA’s Bronte Law, Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in the world amateur rankings. Both would severely disrupt their team’s chances next spring should they earn LPGA cards in December and turn professional.

“If I get my LPGA card, obviously I’ll take it,” Maguire said. “If I don’t, I’ll go back to college and finish out my four years at Duke.”

The second stage of Q-School included 27 amateurs and 11 teenagers. Ten current college players moved on to the final stage, to be played Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“The college coach thing has always bugged me,” Whan said. “Now I’d say to a kid, ‘Listen, if you can’t come out June 1 and make your way to the top 30 on the Symetra, you aren’t going to make it on the LPGA anyway.’ ”

Editors Note: Article by Beth Ann Nichols of Golfweek

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