LPGA Futures Tour Kicks Off Qualifying Tournament This Week
The LPGA Futures Tour will hold its 12th annual qualifying tournament this week in Central Florida. Held to determine playing status for the Tour's 2011 membership, the 72-hole tournament will be staged on three courses.
Tournament contestants each will play one round at Lake Region Yacht & Country Club in Winter Haven, Fla., Lake Wales Country Club in Lake Wales, Fla., and at Ridgewood Lakes Golf & Country Club in Davenport, Fla. A tournament cut will be made after 54 holes, with the cut field returning for the final round at Lake Region.
This year's event features a tournament field of 308 players from 38 nations and 38 U.S. states. Florida brings the most players to the Q-school with 31 contestants, followed by 26 players from California and 20 players from Texas.
Canada brings the most international players with 23 contestants, followed by nine players each from South Korea and Australia, and seven players each from Sweden and Taiwan. Players from Brunei, the Channel Islands and Latvia will make their first appearance at LPGA Futures Q-School, while players from China, Estonia, India and Vietnam will return, seeking playing status for 2011.
Headlining the tournament field will be Jessica Korda of Bradenton, Fla., the 17-year-old 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship runner-up and 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup team member. Korda has already advanced into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament next month in Daytona Beach, Fla.
She will be challenged for medalist honors by Kimberly Kim, 18, of Hilo, Hawaii, the 2006 U.S. Women's Amateur champion, who left the University of Denver to turn professional, as well as Canadian Sue Kim [no relation], 19, of Langley, British Columbia, who also left the University of Denver to turn pro. Like Korda, both players have already advanced into the LPGA Final Q-school through the sectional qualifiers.
Another rookie professional in the field who could be a strong contender this week is Jennifer Johnson of Carlsbad, Calif., who turned pro this spring after her freshman season at Arizona State University. Johnson, 19, was the individual runner-up at the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship and the low amateur at this year's U.S. Women's Open Championship. She advanced into the LPGA's final stage of qualifying next month through the California sectional.
Rookie pro Sydnee Michaels, 22, of Temecula, Calif., finished second at the California LPGA sectional qualifier in September to advance into the LPGA final Q-school. An All-American at UCLA with two collegiate wins, Michaels hopes to continue the winning streak set by her former UCLA teammate Tiffany Joh, who earned medalist honors at last year's Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Jaclyn Sweeney, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., also will make her first appearance on the LPGA Futures Tour as a professional. Sweeney played collegiately at Oklahoma State University and for two years at Arizona State University, electing not to return this year for her senior season with the Sun Devils. The two-time All-American was a member of Arizona State's 2009 NCAA Championship team. She has played on the Futures Tour as an amateur.
Three-time All-American Stephanie Sherlock, 23, of Barrie, Ontario, will also be in this week's tournament field. The former University of Denver collegian has already advanced into the LPGA Final Q-school. She was the 2007 Canadian Women's Amateur champion and a member of the 2008 Canadian Women's World Amateur Team.
Competing this week for first-time tour status will be former Auburn University All-American Candace Schepperle, 21, of Birmingham, Ala. The rookie professional won a 2010 tournament in Ottawa, Canada on the CN Canadian Women's Tour. She has competed as an amateur twice in both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the LPGA State Farm Classic, and is a former Southeast Conference Player of the Year.
Another player hoping to earn 2011 Tour membership is Lizette Salas, 21, of Azusa, Calif. A senior at the University of Southern California, Salas will be competing this week as an amateur, with plans to turn professional following the 2011 NCAA Women's Golf Championship next spring. Salas is a three-time All-American, the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year, the 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a three-time collegiate winner.
Professionals returning to the Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament this week will be Kellee Booth of McKinney, Texas, Cathryn Bristow of Auckland, New Zealand, Futures Tour past champion Salimah Mussani of Burlington, Ontario, and Nicole Perrot of Vina del Mar, Chile, who won twice on the Futures and once on the LPGA Tour.
Exempt and non-exempt player status for 2011 will be determined following the completion of the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in December. Once the LPGA Tour assigns its 2011 member status, the Futures Tour will make its 2011 membership assignments.
For complete scores and daily wrap stories from this week's LPGA Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament, visit lpgafuturestour.com.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS