With the conclusion of the 54-hole event also comes the end of the 2004 Futures Tour schedule, and the top five finishers on the Futures Tour money list will receive exempt status on the 2005 LPGA Tour.
Heading into this week, Jimin Kang, who has non-exempt status on the LPGA Tour in 2004, leads the Futures Tour money list with $46,849 in season earnings. She is followed by Lindsey Wright ($42,364), Nicole Perrot ($38,582), Aram Cho ($37,052) and Emily Bastel ($34,491) in the top five spots. Sung Ah Yim is in the sixth spot on the outside looking in, and needs a good week to climb into one of the top five spots.
For players finishing sixth through 15th on the final 2004 Futures Tour money list, they will receive exemptions to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, Dec. 2-5, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. There they will have a chance to earn exempt status for the 2005 LPGA Tour.
The drama will unfold this week at Regents' Glen Country Club in York, Pa., with every shot counting more than ever. Players will be battling for the $10,500 first-place check, with the runner-up taking home $7,500. At $75,000, the York Newspaper Company Futures Golf Classic features the highest purse on the 2004 Futures Tour, so players on the outside of the top five can earn enough to push them over the edge and into exempt status.
Last year, Stacy Prammanasudh, Soo Young Moon, Candy Hannemann, Ju Kim and Reilley Rankin earned exempt status for the 2004 LPGA Tour season by finishing in the top five on the Futures Tour money list.
This is the sixth year the LPGA has awarded exemptions to members of the Futures Tour, which is the official developmental tour of the LPGA. Of the
17 players who have received exempt status on the LPGA Tour via the Futures Tour money list, two have become LPGA tournament champions (Grace Park and Lorena Ochoa) and two have taken home the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award (Beth Bauer and Ochoa), which is given annually to the LPGA's top rookie.
The Futures Tour began in 1981 and now features more than 240 alumnae that are members of the LPGA Tour. Those players represent nearly 300 tournament victories and 30 major championships, including two major titleists in 2004 (Meg Mallon and Park).
Only 54 holes until five more hopefuls can add their names to that prestigious list as members of the LPGA Tour.