If the United States Women’s Open is the most celebrated event in women’s golf, then the third and final stage of the LPGA’s annual qualifying tournament, otherwise known as Q-School, is undoubtably the most pressure-packed event in the sport—and for good reason.
The final stage of Q-School kicks off Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Florida. A total of 156 players are on hand, 77 Americans and 79 international players. All told 33 nations are represented.
The three-stage Qualifying Tournament process started in late August with Stage I in Rancho Mirage, California. A total of 92 players advanced out of Stage I to Stage II, which was held in October in Venice, Florida. A total of 84 players passed through Stage II to get to the finals. A total of 36 players reached the finals by advancing through each of the first two stages.
There is a $50,000 purse but every player in the field has the same ultimate goal; a place on the LPGA Tour in 2017. Some in the field already have LPGA status of some sort based on performance and are looking to improve it. Others had it at one time but lost it. And still others have never had any stature or standing on the LPGA Tour and are hoping that will change sometime. Sunday afternoon.
Q-School is essentially a numbers game, the ultimate meritocracy. The top 20 finishers in the 5-day, 90-hole event will earn full status on the LPGA Tour for 2017 (ties for 20th place will be played off if necessary). Players finishing in positions 21-45 (plus ties) will earn partial status and any player completing 72 holes of the 90 is assured of status on the Symetra Tour next year.
To say the competition will be rugged is an understatement. There are ten players in the field that finished between 101-125 on the 2016 LPGA money list that are looking to improve status for 2017. Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida) was the highest finisher on the 2016 money list that is in the field. She finished No. 101 with one top 10 finish.
There are three players in the field that have won on the LPGA Tour. Lorie Kane (Charlottetown, Canada) is a four-time winner with her last coming at the 2001 Takefuji LPGA Classic. Julieta Granada (Asuncion, Paraguay) won the 2006 LPGA Playoffs at The ADT and Silvia Cavalleri won the 2007 Corona Championship.
There are 10 players that will retain amateur status into Final Stage. If an amateur finishes in the top 20, she must declare a change in her status to professional following the final-round in order to obtain LPGA Tour status.
Players will alternate over the first four rounds between the Jones and Hills courses at LPGA International. There will be a cut to the top 70 and ties after the fourth round. The final-round will be contested on the Hills course. Play will begin at 8:00 a.m. all five days.
The LPGA contributed to this report.