Sunday, February 8, 2009

2009 Futures Tour Line-Up

The Futures Tour recently posted its list of 2009 members, and as I discussed over the last few months, they are going to be loaded with talent this season. And this list is not final--anyone who's eligible for membership in any of the official categories can apply any time. (Sarah Oh, are you listening?)

But even now, check out who's in! Among those who made the top 90 on the 2008 FT money list but didn't get LPGA membership for 2009, watch out for #6 Song-Yi Choi, #7 Jessica Shepley, #9 Sophia Sheridan, #11 Haeji Kang, #12 Mo Martin, #13 Lisa Ferrero, #14 Kristina Tucker, #15 Gerina Mendoza, #16 Stephanie Otteson, #18 Samantha Richdale, #20 Jenny Suh, #21 Briana Vega, and #23 Caroline Larsson, but also 2008 LPGA rookies like Eunjung Yi, Hannah Jun, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Nicole Hage, and Sofie Andersson, who also have A-1 status in 2009 (as does '07er Sarah Lynn Sargent). Joining them will be fellow Class of '08er Taylor Leon, who played her way in by finishing among the top 30 at FT Q-School (as did '06er Virada Nirapathpongporn, who's recovering from off-season shoulder surgery), along with Liz Janangelo and Chris Brady, who made it to the final day at the LPGA Q-School (along with Alison Walshe, Emily Bastel, Jessica Carafiello, Paola Moreno, and Garrett Phillips). Sarah Kemp (A-4) and Violeta Retamoza (A-6) were the other '08ers who got other kinds of exemptions, as did '07er Becky Lucidi, '09ers Pornanong Phatlum, and veterans Ashli Bunch, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Kate Golden, Candy Hannemann, Tracy Hanson, Angela Jerman, and Lee-Ann Walker-Cooper. So there'll be a good number of players with a good deal of professional experience fighting for those top 10 spots on the money list.

But they'll definitely be looking over their shoulders, for there are going to be a bunch of talented newbies on tour this season, from Pernilla Lindberg, Jane Chin, Jennie Lee, and Kristie Smith to Natalie Sheary, Jessica Yadloczky, Cindy LaCrosse, Lauren Doughtie, and Molly Birmingham, many of whom will be considering whether to turn pro after the spring semester is done and join top amateurs Amanda Blumenherst, Tiffany Joh, Mina Harigae, who should be making more than a few appearances on the FT through the A-5 exemption category (along with other top amateurs and top collegians). And then there's Hannah Yun, who preceded Harigae in leaving school early, but who has already secured her FT membership through her top-90-equivalent '08 standing; she'll likely be playing all season, even before she turns pro after she turns 17.

Other big names in the up-and-coming crowd who made the cut at FT Q-School but didn't finish high enough to get more than non-exempt Category C status include Taylore Karle, Lucy Nunn, Ryan O'Toole, Stephanie Kim, Angela Oh, Nara Shin, Esther Choe, Noon Huachai, and Carmen Bandea.

With close to 60 such high-quality players likely to be playing a good number of FT events, this should be a season to remember. Look for a Mostly Harmless preseason top 30 next month!

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