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Saturday, November 18, 2017

2018 LPGA Q-School Will Look More Like the PGA Tour Version

This is a big deal, so I'm linking you to a Golf Digest article that goes into more detail. But I'll try to summarize it here.

Georgia Hall

Currently the LPGA Q-School has three stages -- two stages of 72-hole stroke play followed by a third stage of 90 holes of stroke play (with a 72-hole cut). The field is made up of the top 15 and ties from the Symetra Tour, any players in the Rolex Rankings Top40 plus the 80 and ties who made it through Stage 2.

Starting next year, that's history.

LPGA commish Mike Whan says the new version will still have the first two stages BUT the final stage will be replaced by what he calls the Q-Series -- two 72-hole events in different places, separated by three days. There will be no cut and the scores will be added together.

There will also be a change in the field. Here's how Whan summed it up:
“When we go to [2017 Q School] stage three in a week, you'll probably have 80 or 85 players in that field that came from stage two,” Whan said. “In 2018, I'll bet that number will be somewhere around 20 to 30, maybe 20 to 25 that will come from stage two. So what that means is you can still go Stage 1, Stage 2, Q Series, LPGA card. But that will be a much tighter funnel and harder to do. The superstars of the time will still get through that, but generally speaking most players will get to stage two, play a year on the Symetra Tour and play their way on to the LPGA.”
The article breaks the new field down this way:
  • Roughly 25 players from Stages 1 and 2 of Q-School
  • Players ranked 101-150 on the LPGA
  • Players ranked 11-30 on the Symetra Tour
  • Top 5 collegiate players in the country (via the GolfWeek rankings)
  • Players ranked in the Top100 in the Rolex Rankings but not already on the LPGA Tour (that number has not yet been determined)
In other words, this will be much more like the new PGA Tour system that funnels players through the Tour, except the LPGA will use the Symetra Tour. While I understand this decision, I do think it puts some new responsibility on the LPGA.

Simply put, the Symetra Tour doesn't pay anywhere near the prize money that the Tour does. If the LPGA wants to make the Symetra Tour a viable alternative to the current Q-School, they need to find some way to raise the weekly purses on the Symetra Tour. Otherwise this change may backfire on them, as it's a much greater burden to play a full season of tournaments with minimal purses than to ante up the cash for a three-week Q-School.

But if the LPGA can solve that problem, this should help them better prepare the rookies for life on the LPGA Tour...

Although given the high level of play we've seen from rookies over the last few seasons, I can't imagine why they think that's needed.

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