Fifty players kept their hopes for an LPGA card alive by advancing out of the second stage of Q-School on Sunday in Venice, Florida, and punching their tickets to the upcoming Q-Series.
Among them were co-medalists Becca Huffer and Seulki Lee, who each finished at 4 under after a tough week for scoring, plus notables such as former Stanford stars Aline Krauter (T-4) and Mariah Stackhouse (T-11), two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Kristen Gillman (T-25), recent Florida State grad and All-American Beatrice Wallin (T-25) and Isabella Fierro (T-33), who left Oklahoma State abruptly last spring and transferred to Ole Miss but never hit a shot for the Rebels before turning pro.
Then there were the photo finishes. Taiwan’s Yu-Sang Hou and Japan’s Yuri Onishi, who each birdied their final holes, the par-5 ninth at Plantation Golf and Country Club’s Bobcat Course, to make it through on the number at 6 over. Hou, an All-American who left Arizona midway through her fifth year, was an LPGA rookie this past season after tying for 30th at last year's Q-Series, but she made just three of 12 cuts with a best finish of T-55.
Five other players advanced with zero shots to spare, including Hou’s former Arizona teammate Therese Warner and Alabama product Kenzie Wright, who missed eight of 14 cuts this past season on the Epson Tour but on Sunday shot even-par 72 in blustery conditions to rocket 31 spots up the leaderboard.
Of course, for every player who squeaks through at Q-School, there is usually a player who finds themselves on the other end. Recent San Jose State grad Natasha Andrea Oon and France’s Celine Herbin each double-bogeyed their last hole to miss by a shot. Amelia Lewis was 2 under through 16 holes before back-to-back bogeys left her at 7 over.
And then there was Kaitlin Milligan, the Oklahoma alum who was three shots inside the number with three holes to play. She then played Nos. 7-9 on the Bobcat Course in 4 over, capping her tournament with a costly double.
Bailey Shoemaker, who signed with USC for the Class of 2023 last week, gave away a few shots coming in to also end up at 7 over. She was among several current or future college players to miss out, though those players will be able to compete on the Epson Tour as amateurs next year.
As for the six college players who advanced to the two-week Q-Series, they will have to turn professional before competing. If they decline and opt to return to school, they will still receive their Epson Tour status.
That group of six includes four All-Americans – Oregon’s Cynthia Lu, Georgia’s Jenny Bae, Michigan’s Ashley Lau and Michigan State’s Valery Plata – as well as Miami’s Nataliya Guseva and Truett-McConnell University’s Minji Kang.
Their decisions will need to be made quickly. The first half of Q-Series begins a week from Monday at Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama. The second 72 holes, granted to the top 70 and ties, will compete for LPGA cards Dec. 5-11 at Highland Oaks Golf Course in Dothan, Alabama.
The top 20 and ties earn LPGA status in Category 14 while the remaining finishers within the top 45 and ties get LPGA status in Category 15.