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Q-Series change: Top 5 collegians no longer exempt into final stage

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In a significant change to the LPGA’s Q-Series, the top five players on the Golfweek/Sagarin individual collegiate rankings will no longer be exempt into final stage.

Beginning this year, the top five will only be exempt into second stage.

The LPGA made the change public with Thursday’s release of its updated Q-Series fact sheet. The top-five exemptions are set on the Q-Series entry deadline of Aug. 12. (The top five of the World Amateur Golf Ranking will continue to be exempt into second stage, as well.)

“After reviewing all pieces of the new Q-Series process and speaking with multiple constituents, including college coaches, we essentially elected to reset to where we were before the Q-Series world,” LPGA tour operations officer Heather Daly-Donofrio explained in an email.

Basically, that means the LPGA will replace those five collegians at final stage with five more Symetra Tour exemptions. 

Those who finished Nos. 11-35 and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list will go to the final stage again.

Some top college coaches didn’t hold back their criticism of last year’s inaugural Q-Series format, which exempted the top five collegians into the final stage. More than one coach complained that it enticed top underclassmen to go to Q-Series who might not otherwise have done so.

Four of the top five players given exemptions to final stage last year earned and accepted LPGA tour cards. Overall, seven collegians did so, with Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho and Arkansas’ Maria Fassi choosing to use the new deferral provision, allowing them to complete their senior college seasons before joining the LPGA. UCLA’s Lillia Vu, Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson and Kristin Gillman, Ohio State’s Jaclyn Lee and Colorado’s Robyn Choi decided to forgo their spring seasons to join the LPGA.

The current top 5 of Golfweek's rankings are, in order: Florida State freshman Frida Kinhult, UCLA sophomore Patty Tavatanakit, Wake Forest sophomore Emilia Migliaccio, Stanford junior Andrea Lee and Kupcho. The top 5 in the WAGR, in order: Kupcho, Tavatanakit, Stanford junior Albane Valenzuela, Fassi and Lee.