Among the players who will battle for a spot in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament are LPGA Teaching and Club Professional member Suzy Whaley, who competed in the PGA Tours Greater Hartford Open in July, and 17-year-old Aree Song, who finished fifth at the 2003 U.S. Womens Open.
Whaley, who played on tour as a non-exempt member in 1990 and 1993, recently finished third in the GOLF FOR WOMEN Magazine LPGA T&CP Championship and has made the cut in her last two LPGA events ' the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic (T50) in June and the Sybase Big Apple Classic Presented by Lincoln Mercury (T48) in July. She also is competing in this weeks Wachovia LPGA Classic Hosted by Betsy King in Kutztown, Pa., as a sponsors exemption.
Song will be playing in the sectional as an amateur, along with 27 other amateurs, and is being allowed to participate after receiving special permission from LPGA Commissioner Ty M. Votaw. Song has played in 14 LPGA events as an amateur since 2000, making the cut in 11 of those 14, including all six major championships in which she has played.
The field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after 36 holes. The top 30 players will advance to the LPGA Tours Final Qualifying Tournament Oct. 21-24, at LPGA Internationals Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla. If necessary, a sudden-death playoff will be held to determine the 30th and final spot.
Consistent with the LPGAs history as being a true World Tour, the 188-player field features players from more than 22 different countries, including a trio from China. Other notables in the event include 2001 U.S. Womens Amateur champion and 2002 U.S. Curtis Cup team member Meredith Duncan; Elisabeth Esterl, who has locked up a spot on the 2003 European Solheim Cup team; 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur champion Becky Lucidi; and 2002 U.S. Curtis Cup team members Emily Bastel, Laura Myerscough and Courtney Swaim.
The Venice qualifier is the first of the LPGA Tours two sectional qualifying events in 2003. The second LPGA Tour Sectional Qualifying Tournament is Sept. 17-20 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., site of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The top 30 finishers from the California qualifier will join the Venice sectional qualifiers, current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their status and the five players who finished sixth through 10th on the final 2003 Futures Tour money list at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.