Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Was the "Mistake" at LPGA Q-School?

In yesterday's post on the surprising expansion of Category #20 on the 2011 LPGA Priority Status List, I never referred to the unofficial admission by the LPGA's Jane Geddes that the LPGA made a mistake at Q-School, because it was such a vague statement. But I think I've figured out what the mistake was: there shouldn't have been a playoff to determine who would be the 39th and 40th-place players at Q-School. According to the 2010 Priority Status List, in Category #20, "ties [are to be] broken on the basis of the lowest most recent round in the final Qualifying Tournament." By that standard, Meredith Duncan's 73 and Jennifer Gleason's 74 should have put them in Category #20. But Gleason and Harukyo Nomura won the playoff and rather than kick Nomura out to make room for Duncan, the LPGA clearly decided to allow both in.

So why was Ayaka Kaneko let in, as well, much less everyone at T44? The only thing I can think of now is that with Aree Song, Pernilla Lindberg, and Jimin Jeong moving from Category #15 (for those who finished between #101 and #125 on the money list) to Category #11 via Q-School, Rachel Hetherington (#107) and Iben Tinning (#115) retiring, Gloria Park (#111) and Ilmi Chung (#114) going to the KLPGA full-time next season, Tamie Durdin (#112) most likely returning to the JLPGA full-time, and Mikaela Parmlid (#122) likely spending virtually all of next season on the LET (where she got full membership via their Q-School), it was easier to bend the rules on Category #20 rather than let players who finished outside the top 125 move ahead of those who outplayed them in Q-School.

All it would take is ignoring a key parenthetical clause in its language: "the next ten (10) players after the ten (10) players eligible under the Nos. 21-30 Category (regardless of whether they have a priority higher than that category)...." After all, with Alison Walshe (#106), Paola Moreno (#117), Libby Smith (#119), and Beth Bader (#125) already in Category #15, not counting them in Category #16 (or, in Walshe's and Bader's case, Category #20) would mean that the players at T44 would be among the 10 golfers following the last of those actually on the priority list in Category #16.

If I'm right, Stephanie Kim and Allison Fouch should appear in Category #16 on the 2011 priority status list. By this logic, Becky Brewerton (75 in the final round of Q-School, 2 shots better than the nearest competitor at +9 with her) should have been the only other player from the T44 spot moved up to Category #20 with Kaneko. But, given the small Category #15 for 2011, why be so exclusive?

Yeah, I know, this reconstruction of the LPGA's thinking sounds kinda seat-of-the-pants and against both the letter and spirit of the 2010 priority status list. But, hey, for all I know, well before Q-School began the LPGA revised its 2011 priority status list criteria in order to open up more opportunities for players via Q-School when those who finished ahead of them actually got status via a higher-level priority category. If so, I'd love to see that language! I think it makes more sense to do things that way: once a player appears on the priority status list, her name is erased from any lower-level category or categories it might otherwise have appeared in, thus opening up a spot in that category (or those categories); however, those who finished outside the top 125 on the money list can gain membership only via Q-School (in Category #16 or #20 if they couldn't play their way into Category #11), not by leapfrogging half those who get LPGA cards from Q-School by getting sucked into Category #15.

Heck, I like that way of thinking so much, I wouldn't mind if they changed the 2011 priority status list criteria and language retroactively. Just so long as they are proactive when it comes to rethinking membership and other matters for the 2012 season!

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