Here are the 1st-round pairings for the 2nd stage of the LPGA's Qualifying Tournament. Unlike the 1st stage's mildly controversial 36-hole cut, this one has no cut. It's 72 holes to decide which of the 157 golfers in the field make it to the top 70 and ties.
There are plenty of LETers trying to make it to the 3rd and final stage at the end of November, including Melissa Reid, Ashleigh Simon, Lee-Anne Pace, Anne-Lise Caudal, Caroline Masson, Line Vedel, Frances Bondad, Felicity Johnson, Stacy Lee Bregman, Vikki Laing, and American Dawn Shockley. ALPGers Cathryn Bristow, Stephanie Na, and Jody Fleming have entered the mix, as well. But the players I'm most excited about are Chie Arimura and Ayako Uehara of the JLPGA. Yes, we have no Sakura Yokomine or Sun-Ju Ahn, but the 28-year-old Uehara is a 3-time winner on tour who's been solidly in the top 25 on their money list over the last 6 seasons (including this one). And the 24-year-old Arimura is one of the top players on tour, a 13-time winner who's currently #3 on the money list and has hovered within the top 6 the last 4 seasons. Both are playing their 1st event since the brutal Japan Women's Open, so let's hope they've recovered from its uber-windy conditions!
It'll be very interesting to see how these seasoned and in some cases stellar professionals stack up against hotshots like Moriya Jutanugarn, Brooke Pancake, Austin Ernst, Natalie Sheary, Jaye Marie Greene, Marta Silva Zamora, Ginger Howard, Emily Talley, Taylore Karle, Kayla Mortellaro, Guilia Molinaro, Rachel Rohanna, Brianna Do, Lisa McCloskey, Marina Alex, and Michelle Shin. And to see how those hotshots do against much more experienced Symetra Tour (and sometimes LPGA) regulars like Jean Reynolds, Candace Schepperle, Katie Kempter, Briana Vega, Kim Welch, Angela Buzminski, Renee Skidmore, Tracy Stanford, Libby Smith, Garrett Phillips, Kendall Dye, Lisa Meldrum, Selanee Henderson, Shasta Averyhardt, Blair O'Neal, Shayna Miyajima, Carling Coffing, and Seema Sadekar.
It's nice to see how the LPGA continues to attract diverse players from all over the world and across the United States. Check out a small selection of names and places that stood out to me: South Korea's Saehee Son, Jacey Chun, Hye-Min Kim, and Hye-Joo Han, Taiwan's Ki-Shui Liao, Pei-Yun Chien, and Wei-Ling Hsu, China's Jiayun Li, Australia's Inhong Lim, Jessica Speechley, Justine Lee, and Breanna Elliott, Sweden's Caroline Westrup, Canada's Victoria Thompson, Nicole Vandermade, Jessica Wallace, and Sue Kim, Denmark's Theresa Koelbaek, Norway's Benedikte Grotvedt and Marita Engzelius, South Africa's Ulrika Van-Niekirk, Mexico's Marcela Leon, Lili Alvarez, and Alejandra Llaneza, Ecuador's Kitty Hwang, Chile's Paz Echeverria, Brazil's Victoria Alimonda-Lovelady, Paraguay's Andy Jun,
the Philippines's Mia Piccio, France's Isabelle Boineau and Fiona Puyo, Germany's Leigh Whittaker, California's Hwanhee Lee, Moah Chang, Joy Trotter, and Vanessa Brockett, New Jersey's Joanna Coe, Hawaii's Britney Choy and Xyra Suyetsugu, Kansas's Tara Goedeken, New York's Michele Low, Tennessee's Callie Neilson, Wisconsin's Carly Werwie, Texas's Tanya Wadhwa, Colorado's Kristin Walla, Oklahoma's Sydney Cox, and Nevada's Justina Yu! (Not to mention more Floridians than you could shake a baby alligator at!)
Still, it is a little bit troubling that of the 216 available spots, only 157 players entered Stage II this year. Makes you wonder if an alternate list from Stage I should be developed or reconfigured.... Seems to me that stage's initial cut, whether it comes after 36 or 54 holes or both, should be generous enough that the Stage II field could be filled out with the best from that B-list--following, of course, all those who didn't make the 72-hole cut. If fewer international players than expected or hoped for enter Stage II, why not give the best of those who struggled in Stage I a second life?