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Golf - 10. September 2007.

Bastel, Fouch, Fankhauser, Retamoza and Lee Earn 2008 Exempt LPGA Status

Sept.9, 2007 --

This year's Tour graduates are: Emily Bastel of Upper Sandusky, Ohio; Allison Fouch of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Mollie Fankhauser of Columbus, Ohio; Violeta Retamoza of Aguascalientes, Mexico; and Seo-Jae Lee of Seoul, Korea.

Bastel, Fouch, Fankhauser, Retamoza and Lee Earn
2008 Exempt LPGA Status

The 2007 season is the ninth year in the 27-year history of the Tour that players have been able to earn automatic exemptions onto the LPGA Tour and the fifth year that five exemptions were awarded. From 1999 to 2002, three exemptions were offered to top money winners.

Also today, the next 10 players on the Tour's money list, excluding LPGA non-exempt players, earned automatic entry into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., set for November 29-December 3. Those players, in order of finish, are as follows: Liz Janangelo of Hartford, Conn.; Brandi Jackson of Greenville, S.C.; Vikki Laing of Musselburgh, Scotland; Taylor Leon of Dallas; Ha Na Chae of Seoul, Korea, Onnarin Sattayabanphot of Bangkok, Thailand; Janell Howland of Boise Idaho; Ji Min Jeong of Kyungki, Korea; Caroline Larsson of Danderyd, Sweden; and Eunjung Yi of Murrieta, Calif.

"This is a exciting time for these players and they are fully prepared to excel on the LPGA Tour after competing for 19 weeks out here,” said Zayra F. Calderon, the Tour’s President and CEO. “This graduating class will be a great addition to the LPGA Tour and excellent role models for our current and future players.”

Bastel, 27, a member of the LPGA Tour in 2005 and 2006, had nine top-10 finishes including two wins and two second place finishes this year in 19 events. Bastel finished first on the money list with earnings of $59,779 and was named Player of the Year. The Michigan State University graduate and former Curtis Cup Team member won the Jalapeno Duramed FUTURES Golf Classic in McAllen, Texas and the Michelob ULTRA Duramed FUTURES Players Championship in Decatur, Ill.

“I’m definitely pleased with the way I played this year and to win Player of the Year is just icing on the cake,” said Bastel.

Fouch, 26, secured the second card with a second-place finish in the final event. She had two wins this year: The Power of the Dream Golf Classic in Frisco, Texas, and the United States Steel Golf Classic in Hammond, Ind. She also posted 10 top-10 finishes in 18 starts, earning $54,476. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Fouch played collegiate golf at Michigan State University.

“I’ve been waiting for Sunday in Albany [N.Y.] for about a month and a half and it was a bumpy road, but I’m pleased that I stood up to the pressure this time,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”

Finishing third was Columbus native Mollie Fankhauser. She recorded nine top-10 finishes, including a win at the Hunters Oak Golf Classic in Queenstown, Md., and two runner-up finishes. Fankhauser, 26, earned $50,128 in 14 events. She played collegiate golf at Ohio State University and was a member of the 2002 Curtis Cup team. She is a 2007 non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour.

“I started out the year trying to Monday-qualify on the LPGA Tour before deciding to come back here,” said Fankhauser. “Even if I hadn’t stayed in the top five, it was the right thing to do because this has been a good experience.”

Tour rookie Retamoza had a solid year on the Duramed FUTURES Tour with six top-10 finishes, including a win at the Alliance Bank Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., and three runner-up finishes. A native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, Retamoza played collegiate golf at the University of Tennessee, where she was named 2005 SEC Player of the Year. With season earnings of $49,895 in 17 events, Retamoza, 24, secured the No. 4 position on the Tour’s money list and is the Tour’s 2007 Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year.

“Lorena [Ochoa] and I grew up together and I’m very happy there will be at least two of us to represent our country next year on the LPGA Tour,” said Retamoza. “It was a long season, but I’m very happy right now.”

Earning the fifth and final spot was another Tour rookie, Seo-Jae-Lee of Seoul, Korea, earning $48,493 in 17 events. The 19-year old had nine top-10 finishes, including two wins at The Duramed Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Team WLF.org Golf Classic in Saint Anne, Ill. Lee also is a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour.

“I tried to Monday-qualify this year, but I missed,” said Lee. “All of my friends from Korea are on the LPGA Tour and I really wanted an exempt card so I could be out there with them, but I concentrated on playing here and now, I have my [fully exempt LPGA] card for next year.”
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