First Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament
Mission Hills Country Club – Dinah Shore, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player Courses
Rancho Mirage, CA
August 22-28, 2016
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA, August 22, 2016 – First stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament began on Monday, August 22 and concludes on Sunday, August 28, 2016 at the Mission Hills Country Club, Dinah Shore, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player Courses.
The top-60 players and ties from this week will advance to the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice Florida. There are 347 players (including 93 amateurs) in the field competing this week. This year’s roster of 347 is a notable increase from the 283 players that competed in the 2015 Stage I Qualifying Tournament. In 2015, 22 players advanced from Stage I through to the Final Stage.
There will be a cut after three rounds. The top 130 and ties will play the final-round. The low 90 and ties after four rounds will advance to Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament the week of October 17-23 in Venice, Florida.
All players who complete 54 holes will receive Symetra Tour status for 2017.
BACKGROUND: FORMAT, CRITERIA, RULES
Competitors gained entry to this week’s tournament by fulfilling one of three field criteria: 1) 2016 Symetra Tour Members not ranked or ranked outside the top 150 on the 2016 Symetra Tour Official Money list through the Decatur-Forsyth Classic; 2) any player moving from Stage II to Stage I, as described in the field criteria for Stage II; and 3) all amateur and professional players who are not current LPGA Tour Members and not ranked or ranked outside the top 400 on the Rolex World Rankings, as of the entry deadline. Competitors must also be 18 years of age or older by January 1, 2017.
Format is 72 holes of stroke-play competition with a cut made after the third round. For the first three rounds, the competitors will play one round each on the Arnold Palmer, Dinah Shore, and Gary Player Courses. The final round on Sunday, August 28 will be played on the Dinah Shore Course. Estimated start time is 7:00 a.m. from Round One on Thursday through the Final Round on Sunday.
The 88 Rule will apply, and any player that has a score of 88-or-higher prior to the cut will automatically be withdrawn from the Qualifying Tournament and will not be eligible to receive any type of Symetra Tour status for 2017.
White line yardage for the three 72-par courses are: Dinah Shore (6,577), Arnold Palmer (6,524), and Gary Player (6,485).
ROBUST INTERNATIONAL PIPELINE
The international presence for Stage I has grown over the years with a total of 45 countries represented. In 2015, there were 26 different countries outside the United States competing in Stage I. The largest number of international players hail from Canada with a total of 19 competitors. Sweden and the Republic of Korea follow with 17 and 11 players respectively.
Twenty players will be the sole competitor from their country; this includes territories Belgium, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Ecuador, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Singapore, and Swaziland.
The state with the most players this week is California with 42 players. Behind California are Texas with 24 players and Florida with 18 competitors.
WGCA FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
Recent Stanford University graduate Lauren Kim (Los Altos, Calif. (AP)) is the only WGCA First Team All-American playing in this week’s competition. During her time with the Stanford Cardinal women’s golf, the team won the national championship in 2015.
WGCA SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Four competitors in this week’s Qualifying Tournament are WGCA Second Team All-Americans: Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Va) University of Virginia; Frida Gustafsson Spang (Kinna, Sweden (A)) East Carolina University; Maria Stackhouse (Riverdale, Ga.) Stanford University; and Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England (A)) University of Washington.
FROM RIO TO Q-SCHOOL
Four players competing this week will have just returned from representing their country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Aditi Ashok (Bangalore, India) was the youngest player to compete in women’s golf at the Olympics at only 18 years of age and was unable to compete last year in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament due to the age requirement. Ashok was the only player from India to play in the Olympics golf field. Her father serves as her caddie and accompanied Ashok at the Olympics. Ashok’s performance at the Summer Games garnered international attention, as she finished 41st (in a field of 60 competitors) at 7-over for a total of 291 (68-68-79-76).
Tiffany Chan (Hong Kong, Hong Kong) represented Hong Kong at the Rio Olympics as one of only three female amateur golfers in Rio. Chan was the first Hong Kong golfer to perform on an Olympic stage and will be the only player from Hong Kong to compete this week. Chan started golf at the age of six and honed her swing through the Hong Kong Golf Association’s junior development program. Chan finished 37th in Rio at 4-over for a total of 288 (71-75-73-69).
Maha Haddioui (Agadir, Morocco) was a four-time Academic All-American and NCGA First Team All-American during her time at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2012, she was the first Moroccan golfer to qualify on the Ladies European Tour full time. Haddioui finished 59th in Rio at 31-over for a total of 315 (82-76-80-77).
Lastly, Michelle Koh (Kuantan, Malaysia) rounds out the four competitors coming from the Rio Olympics where she was one of two women golfers representing Malaysia. Koh turned professional in March 2014 and played in the China LPGA Tour. She won the CTBC Shanghai Ladies Classic on the China LPGA in 2015. Koh closed at 58th in Rio at 24-over for a total of 308 (79-71-76-82).