Ginger Howard is just 17 years old, but with Lexi Thompson winning the Navistar Classic and gaining LPGA membership at 16 in September, Howard moves center stage as a teenage attraction at this week’s start of LPGA Q-School.
Howard, who turns 18 on March 15, will tee it up beginning Wednesday at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., with special permission from the LPGA commissioner. According to tour staff, if Howard earns a card this week, she will receive a waiver of the tour rule requiring LPGA members be at least 18. The 2012 LPGA schedule isn’t out yet but play is expected to begin Feb. 9-12 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
If Howard wins LPGA status, she will become just the fifth African-American to do so since the tour was founded in 1950.
Howard, a former IMG Leadbetter Academy student originally from Philadelphia, turned pro in June and later signed with IMG. She won five Sun Coast Series women’s mini-tour events in Florida this summer and also won medalist honors at LPGA Q-School’s second stage. Thompson won the first-stage qualifier but did not attend second stage with her Navistar victory leading to LPGA membership.
U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang will join Howard in the spotlight among the 142 players vying to win tour cards. The top 40 and ties at the end of the 90-hole competition will receive LPGA status with the exact category qualifications determined Sunday. Symetra Tour (formerly the Futures Tour) status can also be won this week. This year's new three stage Q-School format joins LPGA and developmental tour qualification for the first time.