Five Players Exempt for 2004 LPGA Tour


YORK, Pa. -- Five players qualified Sunday as exempt LPGA Tour members for the 2004 season by finishing in the top five on the Futures Tour Money List. Those graduates are: Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla.; Soo Young Moon of Keumsan, South Korea; Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Ju Kim of Seoul, South Korea; and Reilley Rankin of Hilton Head Island, S.C.
This is the fifth year in the 23-year history of the Futures Tour that players have received automatic exemptions onto the LPGA Tour, but the first year that five exemptions were presented. For the four previous years, the number of awarded cards was three.
Also on Sunday, players ranked sixth through 10th on the money list, received automatic entry into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to be held October 21 - 24, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Those players, in order of finish, are: Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England; Erika Wicoff of Hartford City, Ind.; Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla.; Katherine Hull of Queensland, Australia; and Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla.
Prammanasudh, who is in her second year on the Futures Tour, had eight top-three finishes including two wins at the Frye Chevrolet Classic in Wichita, Kan., and the Lincoln Financial Futures Golf Classic in Avon, Conn. She made $57,760 this year and tops the Futures Tour Money List earning her honors at the 2003 Futures Tour Player of the Year.
'It's great and I'm so excited,' said the four-time NCAA First Team All-American and 2003 LPGA non-exempt member. 'Getting an LPGA exempt card is what we all set out to do. It is another goal accomplished and hopefully I can keep it going.'
Moon, a rookie on the Futures Golf Tour and the LPGA Tour, turned professional last year and was a co-medalist at the Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament. The 19-year-old posted nine top-10 finishes in 16 starts this year including three second-place finishes and two wins at the season-opening Lakeland Futures Golf Classic in Lakeland, Fla., and the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y. With $49,234 in season earnings, Moon finishes second on the Futures Tour Money List and captures honors as the Futures Tour Rookie of the Year.
'Now, I'm a real LPGA player and not conditional anymore,' said Moon. 'I am happy.'
Moving into the third spot on the money list was Hannemann, who needed the win at last week's York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in York, Pa., to solidify her place among the exempt members of the LPGA Tour. Heading into last week, Hannemann was fifth on the money list, moving into the top-five after her first professional win two weeks ago at the Hunters Oak Futures Golf Classic in Queenstown, Md. Her $10,500 first-place check in York moved her season earnings to $43,097, and into third place.
The 23-year-old Hannemann said, 'It's a dream come true. It has been my goal since day one when I turned professional and now all of my hard work has paid off. I knew that in order to get my card I would have to win one of the last three events, and I did.
'The Futures Tour is the best way to make the transition from college golf to the LPGA Tour. Pro golf is such a change of life and level of game. Being on the Futures Tour, you get used to the competition and level of play. There are so many great players that you have to be at the top of your game week in and week out. That itself, is the best test to see how you stand and where you stand.'
Kim, who in 2001 won two Futures Tour tournaments but missed receiving one of the LPGA exempt cards by $210 dollars, competed in all 17 events and had eight top-10 finishes, including one runner-up finish and one win. Her second place came in late May, when she lost in a two-hole playoff to Hull in Sussex, Wis. Then three weeks later, Kim came from six shots behnd second-round leader Prammanasudh to win the Bank of Ann Arbor Futures Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich. She finished fourth on the Futures Money List with $37,255 in season earnings.
'Two years ago, I was very disappointed but what a different feeling I have now -- I am happy,' said the 21-year-old Kim, who in three years, is ranked 11th on the Futures Tour All-time Career Money List with $107,011. 'I put so much pressure on myself all year, but I started the season strong and then won one. I didn't play so well the last few weeks, but I am still getting my LPGA Tour card.'
Rounding out the top-five is Rankin. Her second Futures Tour win two weeks ago at the Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic in Morgantown, W.Va., moved her from eighth to fourth on the money list allowing her to breathe a little easier last week. The 24-year-old player recorded six top-10 finishes, including two wins. Her first professional win came in late May at the Northwest Indiana Futures Golf Classic in Merrillville, Ind. Rankin, who in June of 1999 had a serious water accident that almost ended her golf career, overcame all odds and learned how to play golf again. She won the 2001 NCAA Team Championship with her University of Georgia Golf Team. This year, she finished fifth on the Futures Money List with $35,245 in season earnings.
'It is finally here and it has definitely been worthwhile,' said Rankin. 'I have said all along that all the adversity has made me stronger and now I feel a lot more ready and prepared to play on the LPGA than I would have a year or two ago. I am ready and excited.
'Playing on the Futures Tour is priceless. Every week is a stepping stone and makes you better. It prepares you for everything, including travel, competition, etc.'
Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the Futures Tour said, 'What fabulous achievements these five players have had. Each year the Futures Tour produces the best young talent headed to the LPGA Tour and these five are accomplished golfers and great representatives of women's golf. Their energy and drive is certain to make a mark on the LPGA.'