Big Breaks Welch among Futures Tour qualifiers


Duramed Futures TourALBANY, N.Y. ' Ten Duramed Futures Tour players earned 2009 LPGA membership Sunday by finishing in the top 10 on the season money list.
The tour graduates are: Vicky Hurst, Mindy Kim, Sarah-Jane Kenyon, M.J. Hur, Jin Young Pak, Song Yi Choi, Jessica Shepley, Leah Wigger, Sophia Sheridan and Kim Welch.
This season is the tenth year in the 28-year history of the Futures Tour that players have earned automatic exemptions onto the LPGA and the sixth year that at least five LPGA memberships have been awarded. From 1999 to 2002, three exemptions were offered to top money winners. The 2008 season marks the first time 10 LPGA memberships were awarded.
The next five players on the tours money list, excluding current LPGA members, earned automatic entry into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., set for Dec. 3-7. Those players are Haeji Kang, Mo Martin, Lisa Ferrero, Kristina Tucker, Gerina Mendoza and Stephanie Otteson.
Its believable and it means so much to me to have my LPGA status for next year, said Hurst, 18, who finished on top of the Tours season money list with record single-season earnings of $93,107, and a rookie year that included four tournament wins. Now I have my LPGA card. Its something Ive dreamed about since I was a little kid.
Kim won three times this season and finished second on the money list with $79,270. She finished second in the ILOVENY Championship.
I had no pressure going into this week because I was second on the money list with some cushion, but I tried my best and I got some good results, she said.
Kenyon started the week eighth on the season money list, but her win at the ILOVENY Championship and her $14,000 winners check vaulted her up the money list into the No. 3 spot with earnings of $48,637.
I knew a top three could possibly get me there, but a win was what I wanted today, said Kenyon, who has non-exempt LPGA membership this season. I feel like Ive been holding my breath out here for a long time.
Hur also was a rookie this season. She recorded eight top-10 finishes, including a win in April at the Louisiana Pelican Classic in Lafayette, La., and finished the season ranked fourth in earnings at $45,137.
Its not easy to be in the top five out here, said Hur, 18, a member of the 2006 Korean National Team. I knew that to be a rookie on this tour, I had to try extra hard. This is really exciting for me.