The reward for being in the top three of the Futures Tour money list is full exempt playing status on the LPGA Tour for the following season. Three players, three stories. In the end, three dreams come true.
This year is no different. As the last Futures Tour event in August wrapped up, three names came into view.
It's graduation time for the Futures Tour's finest and the positions of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude have been filled. Taking home this years' respective honors are Beth Bauer, Angela Buzminski and Jung Yeon Lee.
They have made a place for themselves on the LPGA Tour and we will undoubtedly be hearing more about them in the 2002 season.
First on the money list out of the 300-plus Futures Tour competitors is Florida native Beth Bauer. Bauer wanted nothing more than to become a professional golfer.
In the spring of 2000, the Duke University sophomore was reveling in a prominent amateur career in which she recorded 17 AJGA Victories in addition to the six All-America titles and two Player of the Year titles. At the top of her amateur career, Bauer made the pivotal decision to leave Duke upon the conclusion of her second year and turn professional.
She felt she was ready for the pro circuit and there was no doubt in her mind that making her LPGA Tour card for the 2001 season would be a breeze. Bauer was headed for LPGA Qualifying School and what lay ahead was anything but easy.
Reality set in quickly when Bauer shot a stomach-wrenching 76 at Q-school finals. There would be no card for her.
At the time it was the unthinkable. The 20-year-old had not even contemplated missing the cut.
The former Duke superstar faced the biggest stumbling block of her life. No longer part of a team and unable to play her way into the organization of her choice, Bauer felt she had no home in competitive golf. Where would she play?
The Futures Tour answered that question. In January of 2001 Beth redirected her golf game. She and her mother then took to the roads to compete in the 20 Futures Tour tournaments held in 15 states. Not even a year later Bauer had racked up four wins, $76,487 and the No. 1 spot on the money list.
'Playing the SBC Furtures Tour has been a blessing in disguise,' Bauer said shortly after receiving word that she was a member of the LPGA Tour. 'It has been a great year for me as far as building my confidence by winning out here. Hopefully I can take this momentum into next year on the LGPA Tour.'
Then there is Angela Buzminski. As a graduate of Indiana University, Buzminski joined the Futures Tour in 1995. A native of Oshwa, Ontario, the left-handed golfer has won a total of four times on the Futures Tour - three of those wins came during the 2001 season.
Prior to this year, the long-time Futures Tour veteran's best year was in 2000 when she finished 15th on the money list after recording the first of those four wins. To look at this 30-year-old Canadian's record is to know that she is ready to graduate. 'I'm relieved that it is over and that I am going to the LPGA.' Buzminski said.
Fellow Futures Tour rookie, Jung Yeon Lee of Seoul, Korea, rounded out the threesome by winning twice, recording nine top-10 finishes and earning $48,272.
Lee, who edged out fellow countrywoman Ju Yun Kim by $211, was packing her bags when she heard the good news. 'I thought I was going to finish in fourth place so I went back to the hotel to pack to go back to Korea,' Lee said. 'I had no idea that I had passed Kim this week.' Lee returned to her homeland shortly after receiving the good news.
What lies ahead is yet unknown but one thing is sure - the future is now for these three young and very talented 2002 LPGA Tour rookies.