Lee, Lee, Woods, Beck earn LPGA cards
By Torleif Sorenson on 12/8/14
Two unquestionably talented young women named Lee finished at the top of the LPGA's Q-School final stage results this past weekend. One had already turned professional, but the other had to make the decision in a snap.
Minjee Lee, an 18-year-old native of Perth, Western Australia, turned professional back in September after capturing the Women's Victorian Open in February and being ranked the best female amateur golfer in the world. She shot 71-70-67-70-72 = 350 (-10) to tie as co-medalist in the final stage.
Alison Lee, however, faced a very different quandary. A 19-year-old sophomore at UCLA from Valencia, California and a member of the Bruin women's golf team, Lee was in the middle of a stellar collegiate career chock full of awards and several scoring records when she tried her hand at LPGA Q-School. When her fifth and final round was done, she had to make one of the most important decisions of her life:
"I have a lot of mixed emotions. When I made my par putt and realized I got my LPGA Tour card, I was just filled with joy and when I got off and thought about what it meant to be professional. I thought about my team and my school and my coaches, and it made me sad. I get to start a new chapter in my life and hopefully it will be great and I'm really looking forward to the future.”UCLA women's golf coach Carrie Forsyth, however, was magnanimous in her star pupil's star victory:
" am very proud of Alison's accomplishment. There is probably not a better indicator of one's ability to play on the LPGA tour than to win the final stage of qualifying school. I wish her the best and know that she will proudly represent the Bruins throughout her professional career."OK, well, two-time Canadian Open champion Lydia Ko might have something to say about that, but Coach Forsyth's point is plainly understandable.
Accomplished pro Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand and Maria Hernandez from Spain tied for third, just one shot behind the co-medalists.
Ryann O'Toole (UCLA 2009), who participated in Golf Channel's The Big Break Sandals Resort, finished alone in fifth to seal up her 2015 card. She returns to the LPGA Tour after battling through a spondylolisthesis of her L5, a back injury that the LPGA says will probably never heal. The injury spoiled her rise to prominence that included her playing in the 2011 Solheim Cup.
Cheyenne Woods recovered from a disastrous second-round 79 to finish T-11 (-5) and secure her 2015 playing privileges. This was her third trip to Q-School; she did not advance past Stage 1 two years ago. Last year, she made the Final Stage, but missed the 72-hole cut. Woods received a private phone call from her uncle Tiger, as well as a very public congratulatory tweet:
Laetitia Beck, a Belgian-born Israeli, became her home country's first ever professional golfer of note, having tied for 18th place and rounding out the top 20, known as the "Priority List Category 12." She won the first of her five Israeli Open championships when she was 12 years old. On Monday morning, she had to survive two playoffs. The first was a seven-player, three-hole, aggregate playoff — and when that didn't settle things, she had to go another three holes of sudden-death golf, which she ended with a 132-yard wedge to 18 feet, followed by a birdie putt.
"I don’t think I'm realizing it yet. Every time that I do something great, when it happens it feels natural. I'm really excited. I'm sure that my family and friends in Israel are excited too, so I'm happy for me and I'm happy for them.”Beck played NCAA Division I college golf at Duke University, so she is no stranger to fierce top-level competition at the amateur level.
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Image via LPGA
[ comments ]
Unfortunately for the women who got their card but finished closer to 20th than 1st, the opportunities to play will likely be a bit limited. Still, if they can get the job done in the 18-19 events that have open spots, they will have a good start on their LPGA career.
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