Monday, December 27, 2010

On the New Members of the Class of 2011

I've only just now become aware of Ryan Ballengee's and Emily Kay's reporting that weeks after the close of their Q-School, the LPGA offered "membership in category 20 on the 2011 LPGA Priority List" to Ayaka Kaneko, Meredith Duncan, Tanya Dergal, Becky Brewerton, Jennifer Johnson, Junko Nakada, Jaclyn Sweeney, Lisa Ferrero and Sarah Brown. So add Brewerton, Sweeney, Johnson, Brown, Kaneko, and Nakada to the LPGA's Class of 2011. The question everyone's wondering about is, "why?"

In case you haven't been following my Q-School blogging, I'll remind you that Sweeney got full LET membership just over a week ago, along with Caroline Hedwall (LPGA Category #20) and Belen Mozo (LPGA Category #11). So why did Sweeney, along with everyone who finished T39 and T44 in the LPGA's Q-School (except Beth Bader, who already had better status due to her finish at #125 on the 2010 LPGA money list), all of a sudden and belatedly get offered a practically worthless card for 2011?

I can't help but see this as an attempt to keep the LPGA an attractive alternative to the JLPGA and LET for players looking to break through in their pro careers. We might see Brewerton and Sweeney play on the LPGA a few times when they would otherwise have played an exclusive LET schedule next season. And now 3 young Japanese golfers who have followed the path Mika Miyazato blazed in starting her pro career outside Japan have LPGA cards to show for their boldness. Yes, practically speaking, all of them will be on the Futures Tour next season (Kaneko for the 2nd time), but symbolically, this is the LPGA saying that their doors are open to international and American (Sweeney, Johnson, and Brown) youngsters. Still, I'm wondering if the practical reason why the LPGA opened its doors a little wider is that some players from the top 40 in Q-School declined to accept LPGA membership for 2011.

Interpretation and speculation aside, I also put in an email inquiry to Mike Scanlan and Heather Daly-Donofrio in the LPGA office. They're on vacation right now, but I'll let you know when I hear back from them.

[Update 1 (12/28/10, 12:33 pm): I think I figured out what happened, how, and why. Would be nice to get some confirmation.]


Golf Examiner said...

Good points, TC

IceCat said...

The LPGA Futures Tour schedule has been out for a full week, and I seem to have been the first to notice: