Sunday, December 4, 2011

LPGA Q-School Final Qualifying Tournament Overview: Close Races at the Top and Bottom of the Top 20; Gulyanamitta and Salas Prevail

Junthima Gulyanamitta fired a 6-birdie 68 in the final round of the Final Qualifying Tournament on the Champions course at LPGA International to take medallist honors from Christine Song for 2011 LPGA Q-School.  Song started her bid for a wire-to-wire win with 3 bogeys and no birdies in her 1st 10 holes, but a double bogey by Gulyanamitta on the par-4 12th gave her some hope.  However, Gulyanamitta finished strong with 3 birdies and no bogeys in her last 6 holes to take a 2-shot victory over Song.

There were other great rounds and great finishes among those who earned full LPGA status for next year by finishing in the top 20, but probably none were better than Lizette Salas's.  Sure, Rebecca Lee-Bentham shot the low round of the day, a 6-birdie 67, to jump from T38 all the way to T9.  Dori Carter fired a 6-birdie 68 to finish T4 with Karlin Beck, 1 shot behind fellow Class of '11er Jennie Lee, who also got her 2012 card the hard way.  Victoria Tanco went -4 over her last 14 holes of bogey-free golf to finish in T15.  Meredith Duncan finished birdie-eagle and Hannah Yun finished birdie-birdie to avoid having to take part in the 9-player playoff at +5 for the last spot in the top 20.  There, Salas faced off against Danah Bordner, who played her last 15 holes -6 and bogey-free, including a walkoff eagle that earned her a 68 and a +5 finish for the week; Sophia Sheridan, who birdied 2 of her last 4 holes to make the playoff; and the likes of Stepanie Sherlock, Paola Moreno, Veronica Felibert, Jacqui Concolino, Min Seo Kwak, and Lacey Agnew in a 3-hole cumulative playoff.  Thanks to tweets from Golfweek's Julie Williams and Beth Ann Baldry, we know that Salas took what seemed to be an insurmountable lead by birdieing her 1st 2 holes, but Agnew and Bordner struck back from the 1st threesome with eagles on the par-5 18th.  (That's 2 for 2 by Bordner for you folks scoring at home.)  So what did Salas do but sink an 18-footer for her 3rd-straight birdie in the playoff to take the last spot that guarantees a full LPGA schedule for 2012?  Clutch!

If the LPGA were using the rules for 2011 Q-School that were in effect the last 2 years, then only the next 10 players following Salas would be in Category 16, with ties broken by final-day scores.  That would leave Mi Hyang Lee and Patcharajutar Kongkraphan the 9th and 10th players in that category on the priority status list.  But if what I'm reading from is correct, this year they're including those who finished in the top 30 and ties, which would mean that Mitsuki Katahira (who bogeyed 18 to drop to +6) and Thidapa Suwannapura (who finished birdie-bogey-birdie to salvage a 75) are also in Category 16.

This has implications for 2-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang, who would be the 11th player after Kongkraphan and hence the odd woman out of Category 20 under the old rules.  But if top 40 and ties are in, then Kang is just barely in, too.

I've been seeing several players and media folks referring to a penalty Hannah Yun had to take on the 3rd hole.  She had originally been in with a 69, but all of a sudden it got changed to a 71 when she had to take a double there.  Beth Ann Baldry promises to write up this story.  I have to give Hannah a call and then I'll update this post.

I know the media is going to make a big deal about the Stephanie Kono story that Baldry broke yesterday--how she has to give up the rest of her senior year at UCLA and a chance for a spot on the 2012 Curtis Cup because she was required to either accept or reject LPGA membership after finishing T9, rather than given a chance to defer for a few months, even though she was mistakenly told that she had to participate in the Final Qualifying Tournament to get Futures Symetra Tour status for 2012.  More on that later, too!

[Update 1 (5:19 pm): has its final results page out and both it and the updating live scoring page clarify that indeed top 30 and ties are in Category 16 and top 40 and ties are in Category 20.  I just got off the phone with Hannah Yun and will treat her penalty in a separate post after I make some rice for dinner!]

[Update 2 (6:19 pm):  My bad, it's next 10 for Category 16 and top 40 and ties for Category 20!  Kono/Yun post not done; will have to wait till after dinner!]

[Update 3 (7:14 pm):  Great final-round overview by Lisa Mickey!]

[Update 4 (10:05 pm):  Here's Tom Abbott's take.  I think he went easy on Danielle Kang and Carlota Ciganda, who vastly underachieved on their way to getting practically worthless LPGA status in 2012.]

[Update 5 (12/5/11, 9:58 am):  Here's 's profile of the top 20 in Category 1 for 2012.]

1 comment:

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

I am shocked at Daniell's results.
I thought she was the one player in the field that could make a real impact on 2012 tour. I guess she will gain admission next year by finishing in the top 5 on the Futures Tour. With Lexi, Ryu, Ekay, and Michaels, this could still be a strong rookie class.