LPGA Expands Futures Tour Exemptions to Five

By Lpga Tour MediaMarch 18, 2003, 5:00 pm
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- During its first player meeting of the 2003 season, the LPGA Tour membership voted to expand from three to five the number of exempt tour cards earned through the Futures Tour money list.
 
The five exempt LPGA cards will be awarded to the top five money earners on the Futures Tour money list at the conclusion of each Futures Tour season, beginning this year. The Futures Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA.
 
The expansion of exempt tour cards being awarded to Futures Tour players is right in step with our fans first strategy to showcase the very best in womens professional golf, said commissioner Ty M. Votaw. Awarding additional cards to the top performers of the Futures Tour demonstrates the importance the LPGA membership and its board of directors are placing on cultivating future stars to fuel the pipeline of the LPGA.
 
'In providing more cards, we are rewarding players with the opportunity to compete on the LPGA Tour who have demonstrated outstanding yearlong performances on one of the most demanding developmental tours in the world. The fresh new faces emerging from the Futures Tour represent an exciting and entertaining property for the LPGA and our growing fan base.
 
As the official developmental tour of the LPGA, Futures Tour players have a direct route to the LPGA Tour. The top five players on the Futures Tour money list at the conclusion of the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic on Aug. 17, who play in a minimum of six Futures Tour events, will automatically receive exempt status on the LPGA Tour for the following season. In addition, players ranked sixth through 10th on the Futures Tour money list will receive direct entry to the LPGAs Final Qualifying Tournament.
 
Increasing the number of exempt cards from three to five recognizes the caliber of play showcased on the Futures Golf Tour, and it represents another step to assure that the new players entering the LPGA are tested and well-prepared to become the next generation of LPGA stars, said Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the Futures Tour. This recognition affirms the strategic value the LPGA places on its developmental tour and will provide these young yet accomplished players with a solid alternative to enter the LPGA.
 
Since the Futures Tour was named the LPGAs official developmental tour in 1998, several of todays LPGA stars benefited from the direct route to the LPGA Tour, said Votaw. Fans have the opportunity to watch players like Grace Park, Beth Bauer, Lorena Ochoa, players who excelled on the Futures Tour, earned their LPGA Tour cards and are the up-and-coming rising stars of the LPGA. We look forward to welcoming many more Futures Tour stars in years to come.
 
The Futures Tour features a schedule of 17 events, conducted in 14 states across the country. This year more than 180 Futures Tour alumni are members of the LPGA Tour, and through 2002, they represent a total of 244 LPGA victories including 26 major championships.
 
The Futures Tour is headquartered in Lakeland, Fla.

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.