DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Epson Tour annually awards LPGA Tour Membership to the top players on the Race for the Card money list, and the conclusion of the Epson Tour Championship ushers in the 2021 graduating class.
From 1999-2002, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA handed out three cards. Then from 2003-2007, that number increased to five before 10 were distributed starting in 2008. Since the inaugural year, total of 172 players have graduated to the big stage including the top 10 from this season.
Meet the 2021 Epson Tour graduates:
No. 1 Lilia Vu (Fountain Valley, California) - $162,292Three wins and eight total top-5 finishes sealed Epson Tour Player of the Year honors for Lilia Vu. She won the Garden City Charity Classic in May, the Twin Bridges Championship in July and the Four Winds Invitational in August. The UCLA alumna led the Tour in par-4 scoring (3.956) and was second in scoring average (70.037).
Vu was a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie after finishing in a tie for 27th at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series in 2018 to first earn LPGA Tour Membership. The 23-year-old returns to the big stage where she captured a career-best result of a tie for 40th at the 2018 ANA Inspiration as an amateur.
Vu on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “It has been such a journey back to the LPGA Tour and I am so glad all the perseverance paid off. At a few points over the last couple years, I thought about putting the clubs away and going to law school, but my mom convinced me otherwise. I’m happy she did and for my time on the Epson Tour. It provided a renewed confidence in my game to help me succeed at the LPGA level. I know I’m ready for it, now.”
No. 2 Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) - $119,180
Make it back-to-back years as a Epson Tour graduate for Fatima Fernandez Cano. She was also No. 2 in 2020, when only the top-5 players earned LPGA Tour Membership because of the COVID-shortened season. It’s the first time since Jenny Gleason in 2011 and 2012 that a player finished the year as a Epson Tour graduate in consecutive seasons. Fernandez Cano accomplished the feat thanks to 10 top-10 results which includes three runner-up performances.
Her consistency shined in several statistical categories, as Fernandez Cano led the Epson Tour in sub-par holes (242) and birdies (238). She was also second in par-3 scoring (2.948), second in par-5 scoring (4.607) and third in scoring average (70.410).
Fernandez Cano on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “My goal at the beginning of the year was to be in the top 10 on the Epson Tour. Even though I was a 2020 graduate, I knew we would not have the same LPGA status as previous classes because of COVID freezing the priority list and all that. So, I put my focus and determination into my play out here. This is even sweeter than last year. My dreams are much more real now. I can’t wait to compete full-time on the LPGA Tour and leave my mark.”
No. 3 Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin) - $114,534
Two wins in her fourth season on the Epson Tour propelled Casey Danielson into the Race for the Card Top 10. A four-time WIAA Division II State Championship medalist for Osceola High School and member of the 2015 NCAA Championship team at Stanford University, Danielson is now a Epson Tour graduate and on her way to the LPGA Tour as a 2022 rookie.
She collected her first professional win at the Epson Classic in May and followed it up with another victory in July at the Donald Ross Classic, earning four additional top-10 results in 19 starts this season. Off the course, Danielson completed her Yoga Alliance Certification for the Hatha Discipline in December 2018 through the Marianne Wells Yoga School.
Danielson on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “Wow, just wow. There are so many people to thank that made this possible. It takes a village. I can’t imagine where I would be without them: family, friends, coaches, mentors. I learned so much in my four years on the Epson Tour and made great relationships along the way. I’ll always remember my roots and take it all with me as I begin my LPGA career.”
No. 4 Sophia Schubert (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) - $101,163
There may not have been a more memorable moment on the Epson Tour in 2021 than when Sophia Schubert made eagle on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the Carolina Golf Classic, her first professional win in the penultimate event of the season, and secure LPGA Tour Membership for 2022. It was a script out of a fairytale. Schubert added eight additional top-10 finishes to her resumé.
The 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion ranked second on Tour in sub-par holes (236) and greens in regulation (80.6% through 60 rounds) and was second in birdies (232) this season. Schubert made her professional debut at the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship Driven by Group 1001.
Schubert on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “The win in Greensboro is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I had been close a couple times earlier this season and I knew that I could do it. It was so relieving to get it under my belt and then to clinch my LPGA card in the process was indescribable and a dream come true. My mom is out watching just about every week and to share the accomplishments with her made it even more special. I’m proud of the whole season that I have put together and I couldn’t be more excited for the next stage.”
No. 5 Ruixin Liu (Guangdong, People’s Republic of China) - $95,281
She started the 2021 Epson Tour season by winning two of the first three tournaments—the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic and the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic—and Ruixin Liu never looked back. In her final 10 starts, Liu collected four top 20s including a runner-up finish at the Four Winds Invitational in August. That was her last event of the year, as Liu returned to China to represent her native province in the Chinese National Games and did not return because of extensive quarantine restrictions.
The 2018 Epson Tour Player of the Year finished No. 1 in the Race for the Card that year to earn LPGA Tour Membership as a 2019 rookie. A six-time winner on the “Road to the LPGA” and two-time Epson Tour graduate, Liu ended the 2021 season ranked fourth on Tour in par-3 scoring (2.973), fifth in scoring average (70.528) and third in par-5 scoring (4.643).
Liu on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “Winning two of the first three events on the Epson Tour this year opened up my calendar to play some LPGA tournaments and potentially go back home to China since the pandemic really did not allow me to. Once I finished runner-up at the Four Winds [Invitational], I knew my spot in the top 10 was safe. I’ve built a lot of confidence on the Epson Tour; when I was No. 1 in 2018 and then played on the LPGA Tour in 2019, as well as this time around. I feel better about reaching the LPGA and that my game is in a good place.”
No. 6 Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) - $94,188
Two years ago, Maude-Aimee Leblanc announced her retirement from professional golf on social media, saying, “I decided to retire from professional golf forever. Over time, I realized it wasn’t my dream.” It is safe to say the coronavirus pandemic rekindled that competitive itch for Leblanc and established a new set of dreams, some of which she chased down as a Epson Tour graduate.
Leblanc played the weekend 15 times in 18 starts this season with 14 top-25 finishes including nine top 10s. She recorded a season-best result of runner-up on three occasions. The 32-year-old Canadian led the Epson Tour in par-5 scoring (4.600), was second in scoring average (70.060) and in par-4 scoring (3.982), and fifth in average driving distance (285.190 yards). Leblanc first earned LPGA Tour Membership through her finish in the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
Leblanc on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “It’s pretty surreal. A couple years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would ever play competitively again. To be here, getting back my LPGA Tour card after probably the best season in my career, there’s no words to describe the emotions. The journey has been grueling and this game knocks you down, but I’m proud to see what all my perseverance and hard work accomplished.”
No. 7 Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) - $90,921
With her eighth top-10 finish in 2021 of a tie for third at the Epson Tour Championship, Amanda Doherty clinched her place in the Race for the Card Top 10 and Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year honors. The second-year rookie secured a career-best finish on the “Road to the LPGA” of runner-up at the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding in May.
Doherty ranked fourth on Tour in scoring average (70.527), sub-par holes (231) and birdies (224). A Florida State University alumna, Doherty was a 2018 All-ACC selection and competed at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019.
Doherty on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “I learned so much during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, which helped me to really settle into life as a professional golfer. I know the learning curve can be a real challenge, but I was able to find what works for me and stuck to it. I’m happy to find success so early in my career, but I’m just getting started. I know I will have to work even harder at the LPGA level.”
No. 8 Allison Emrey (Charlotte, North Carolina) - $82,644
It was a tough start to the season for Allison Emrey, missing three cuts in her first four events. But her maiden Epson Tour win at the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding in May was the breakthrough she needed. Emrey collected four top-10 finishes the rest of the year en route to securing her spot in the Race for the Card top 10.
The 2015 Colorado Women’s Open champion was a 2015 All-ACC selection for Wake Forest University and collected eight top 10s in her Demon Deacons career. In her sixth year on the “Road to the LPGA,” Emrey owns 19 career top-10 results. She returns to the LPGA Tour where she was a 2018 rookie after finishing in a tie for 45th at the 2017 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
Emrey on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “There are so many ups and downs in a golf season and every week on the Epson Tour is a true grind. I think it’s the best way to prepare for the LPGA Tour. It was incredible to win my first pro title this season and the victory really pushed me to get here. Since my rookie year in 2016, I have grown so much on and off the course. I’m excited to continue that growth on the LPGA Tour next year.”
No. 9 Morgane Metraux (Lausanne, Switzerland) - $75,771
In 2019, Morgane Metraux suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined her for 10 months. Two years later, she is a Epson Tour graduate. Metraux also elected to not compete on the Epson Tour in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, making her run in the Race for the Card that much more impressive. She captured five top-10 results on her 2021 “Road to the LPGA” campaign, including her first career win at the Island Resort Championship.
The Florida State University alumna ended her Seminoles career with the third-lowest scoring average (73.18) in school history. A three-time medalist, Metraux left Tallahassee as one of only four individuals in Seminoles history to record three or more wins. Metraux was also a two-time All-ACC selection.
Metraux on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “Reaching this goal just a couple years after a pretty devastating injury could be surprising, but I feel like I took the right steps to recover and keep my game in shape to at least give myself a chance at the top 10. The opportunity to play on the LPGA is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl and now those dreams have come true.”
No. 10 Rachel Rohanna (Marianna, Pennsylvania) - $75,608
A two-time Epson Tour champion, Rachel Rohanna is now a two-time Epson Tour graduate. In 2015, she won the Guardian Retirement Championship to help her finish in the Race for the Card Top 10. This season, Rohanna used four top 10s including a pair of runner-up performances at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic and the Twin Bridges Championship to get the job done.
Rohanna co-led the Epson Tour in eagles (9) this season. The two-time All-Big Ten First Team performer for Ohio State University shared medalist honors at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She and husband Ethan Virgili own ERV Cattle Co. and welcomed daughter Gemelia Grace into the world on June 12, 2018. Rohanna won the 2017 Epson Tour Championship when she was six weeks pregnant.
Rohanna on earning 2022 LPGA Tour Membership: “This time as a Epson Tour graduate means a little more because I have Gemelia here with me. It’s so special to be able to share the moment with her and see her reactions, the smile on her face. That means everything to me. I’m thrilled to have another shot at the LPGA Tour and can’t wait to make the most of it. Making it through a Epson Tour season is one thing, but to do it as a mom and finish in the top 10 is a testament to my amazing family and team.”