Stellar rookie class graduates from LPGA Q-School


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The LPGA will welcome a formidable cast of rookies next year.

Cheyenne Woods, Charley Hull, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Alison Lee, Ha Na Jang and Sakura Yokomine will all join the LPGA as rookies next year after claiming some level of tour membership Sunday at LPGA Q-School. 

Amateur Alison Lee, a sophomore at UCLA, closed with an even-par 72 to share medalist honors with Australia’s Minjee Lee (73), the top women’s amateur in the world until turning pro in September. They finished at 10-under 350. 

Alison Lee, 19, confirmed she will shed her amateur status to turn pro and join the LPGA full time next year, though she said she plans to continue her studies at UCLA. She was one of a record four amateurs who made it through Q-School this year and will play the tour as professionals next year. South Korean amateur SooBin Kim earned full status while fellow amateurs Julie Yang of South Korea and Jing Yan of China earned conditional status.

Q-School ended with a suspension of play due to darkness Sunday after seven players went into a playoff for the final three cards for full status. The top 20 earn full LPGA membership with the next 25 and ties earning conditional status.

Israel’s Laetitia Beck and American Garrett Phillips advanced from the playoff before darkness fell to claim two tour cards granting full status. Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow and Americans Karlin Beck and Casey Grice will return Monday at 7:30 a.m. to vie for the final card granting full status.

Woods rebounded from a second-round 79 to claim full status, tying for 11th with a final-round 70.

Jutanugarn, 19, who ranked as high as No. 15 in the world before tearing the labrum in her right shoulder a year ago, will join her sister, Moriya, in the LPGA next year. Ariya (71) finished tied for third. Moriya was co-champion at LPGA Q School two years ago and was the tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Hull, 18, closed with a 68, the round of the day, but it wasn’t good enough to gain her full status. She tied for 28th, earning conditional status. She is flying to the Dubai Ladies Masters this next week to try to become the youngest Order of Merit winner in Ladies European Tour history.

Jang, 22, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 25 in the world, led going into Sunday but shot 80. Still, she tied for sixth. She was the Korean LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year and leading money winner last year.

Yokomine, 28, who has won 23 LPGA of Japan Tour events, shot 75 and tied for 11th.

Ryann O'Toole (70), a member of the 2011 American Solheim Cup team, finished fifth.