With their eyes on the prize for LPGA exempt status, the members of the Futures Tour have jockeyed for position into the top-five on the Futures Tour Money List all year. That effort culminates Aug. 15-17, at the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic at Regents' Glen Country Club in York, Pa. Following the 54-hole competition, five players will advance to the LPGA Tour. Players finishing in positions six through 10 on the final money list will advance directly into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament in October.
York will host a full field of 144 players representing 26 nations spanning six continents with international players comprising nearly 38 percent of the field. This year's tournament purse will be $75,000, with the winner taking home $10,500. All proceeds from the event will benefit the YWCA of York.
The tournament field will include all of the top-25 players on the season money list, 15 non-exempt LPGA Tour members and 11 of the 12 different Futures Tour tournament champions crowned in 2003, including all three two-time winners. While the money-list positions are subject to change, the current top-five players are (in order): non-exempt LPGA Tour rookie Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla.; non-exempt LPGA Tour and Futures Tour rookie Soo Young Moon of Keumsan, South Korea; Ju Kim of Seoul, Korea; last week's winner and non-exempt LPGA rookie Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and former LPGA Tour member Lisa (Hackney) Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England.
A four-time All-American at the University of Tulsa and second-year Futures Tour player, Prammanasudh leads the money list with earnings of $51,470. She won her first professional title in late April at the Frye Chevrolet Classic in Wichita, Kan., and won again four weeks ago at the Lincoln Financial Futures Golf Classic in Avon, Conn. Prammanasudh finished one stroke behind Moon two events ago, giving her a second runner-up finish for the season. The Oklahoman now has 10 top-10 finishes in 12 events.
Following injuries sustained in an automobile accident in late May, Moon has rebounded and moved into the No. 2 position on the money list. She won the season-opening Lakeland Futures Golf Classic in Lakeland, Fla., and won again two weeks ago at the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y. Moon was No. 1 on the money list when she was involved in a car crash at the Wisconsin tournament. The accident forced her to withdraw from competition for two weeks and she dropped out of the top spot on the money list, but Moon now has $45,208 in season earnings. She was runner-up a week ago, which gives her eight top-10 finishes in 14 tournaments.
Kim missed getting her exempt LPGA Tour status by a mere $210 in 2001. That amount separated the No. 3 spot from Kim's No. 4 position. Prior to 2003, only three exempt cards were awarded to the top finishers and Kim fell short of her goal in 2001. But if she can hang on to one of the top-five spots over the next two weeks, her patience will pay off. The Korean carded a final-round 66 and charged from six strokes behind second-round leader Prammanasudh to win her third career title at the Bank of Ann Arbor Futures Golf Classic last month in Ann Arbor, Mich. It was her first win in two years.
Hannemann's win a week ago at the Hunters Oak Futures Golf Classic enabled her to jump from the No. 9 position to No. 4 with earnings of $32,227. The 2001 NCAA Division I individual champion from Duke University won her first professional title by three shots over Moon. She has posted seven top-10 finishes in 12 events.
Rounding out the top five in the No. 5 spot is Hall, a former LPGA Tour player and member of the European Solheim Cup team. Hall hopes to regain the form that made her the LPGA's 1997 Rookie of the Year. A top-five finish also would enable her to regain her exempt LPGA status. With a rebuilt golf swing and reconstructed confidence, Hall has an eye set on winning one of the last two season events, including this week's Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic in Morgantown, W. Va. A Futures Tour winner last year, Hall is the only player among the top five without at least one title this season. She has three second-place finishes this year and six top-10 finishes in 14 events with earnings of $31,186.
Along with the top 10 are other notable players, including: Erika Wicoff of Hartford City, Ind., a non-exempt LPGA Tour member who has nine top-10 finishes; and recent Pepperdine University graduate Katherine Hull of Queensland, Australia, who won her professional debut in early June and repeated as champion the next week following a collegiate season in which she recorded the lowest NCAA 18-hole score (nine-under 63) and 54-hole score (16-under 200).
Catherine Cartwright currently No. 7 will attempt to climb back into the top five after spending much of the season there. The 20-year old from Bonita Springs, Fla., won her first professional title in May at the season's largest-purse event, the $95,000 Isleta Casino & Resort Futures Golf Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. Prior to turning pro at age 18, Cartwright won the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.
The five LPGA exempt cards will be awarded immediately following the final round of the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic. Players who gain automatic entry into the final stage of LPGA qualifying also will be recognized, as will the Futures Tour Player of the Year (awarded to the season's top money winner) and Futures Tour Rookie of the Year (awarded to the rookie who leads in earnings).