Woods reclaims card; Feng medalist at LPGA Q-School


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – China’s Simin Feng went wire to wire winning medalist honors Sunday at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

Amateur Gaby Lopez won a tour card and instantly turned pro.

Cheyenne Woods won back full membership.

Meghan Khang of Rockland, Mass., earned her way to the LPGA at 18 years old in just her second event as a pro, but she wasn’t the youngest player to make it through.

Thailand’s Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras won full status at 17, but she won’t need a waiver of the LPGA’s age restriction because she turns 18 on Dec. 29. Thanapolboonyaras led a strong new wave of Thai players through Q-School. Overall, eight Thai players made it through with four earning full status.

Eight teenagers earned tour cards Sunday, five with full status.

It was a busy final round at LPGA International’s Hills Course, with the top 20 earning full LPGA membership for next year and the next 29 players earning conditional status. Everyone else who made it through four rounds of the five-round event earned Symetra Tour Status.

The day’s drama continued past 90 holes with a playoff needed to determine the last two players to earn full status.

In a three-way playoff for two spots, China’s Jing Yan and Thailand’s Benyapa Niphatsophon won out. They advanced over American Christine Song in a three-hole aggregate playoff.

Feng, 20, closed with a 3-under-par 69 to win medalist honors in a runaway. She led or shared the lead after every round. At 18 under overall, Feng was seven shots better than American Grace Na (69) and Thailand’s Budsabakorn Sukapan (70).

The Philippines’ Cyna Rodriguez (71) and Canada’s Maude Aimee LeBlanc (71) finished eight shots back.

Lopez, a senior at the University of Arkansas, closed with a 1-over-par 73 to finish tied for 10th. She announced afterward that she was turning pro and accepting tour membership. She said she was turning pro in a bid to increase her chances to represent Mexico in the Olympics this summer.

“Right now, I have a million emotions in my mind and my heart,” Lopez said. “This round was a tough one. I didn’t expect it to be that hard, but I proved to myself that I was prepared for that moment.”

Woods started the day on the bubble in a bid to regain full tour status after finishing 125th on the LPGA money list as a rookie. After getting off to a rough start Sunday, she rallied with five birdies over her final 12 holes. She rolled in a 50-foot birdie at the 17th to give herself a cushion, closing with a 69 to finish tied for 13th.

“I was 2 over after six holes,” Woods said. “I managed to fight my way back. I wanted it so badly.”