Life really is as good as it gets for Florida native Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida). It’s birthday week. Her best friend and mom Amy, father Chris and family dog Bunker are in Daytona Beach, Fla., to support her at the Epson Tour Championship. And she’s competing in her home state with a chance to earn LPGA Tour membership for 2022.
Sitting at No. 16 in the Race for the Card, the icing on the cake would be climbing into the top 10 from her current spot. It would take another career performance, something Wagner has been full of in 2021, but she would not want the moment to set up any other way.
“I know what I have to do to get my [LPGA Tour] card, which is a nice place to be,” said Wagner, who has earned $57,388 this season and is $15,179 outside the top 10. “Everything is in my control. I’m entering the week in a really good place, mentally.”
Just two years ago, the University of Florida alumna made 21 starts on the Epson Tour. She played the weekend nine times and missed eight consecutive cuts to finish the season. That prompted an overhaul of her swing ahead of the 2020 campaign.
Wagner started working with Chris Mason, who is also the swing coach for a handful of LPGA members including Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, as well as Matilda Castren, a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2021 LPGA Mediheal Championship and Epson Tour alumna.
“Some days are better than others but overall, I have found a confident place with my swing. In the past, at times I had no idea what I was doing wrong,” Wagner said. “Now I can tell things very quickly.”
The fourth-year professional has made 13 cuts this year with six top-10 finishes, including a career-best showing of a tie for second at the inaugural Copper Rock Championship in April. She has progressed in a short time and the chutzpah in her swing will carry Wagner on the Jones Course at LPGA International. “I play on Bermuda greens all the time with grain, and I’m used to the grass. I think that’s an advantage, especially when around the greens,” said Wagner. "I’ve played this course a lot. I know where I want to be off the tee. It is a good thing to take into the week.”