The regular season is over for both the LPGA Tour and the Epson Tour, but there is still so much golf to be played. Though there are just two months to go before the 2023 season begins, there are still 45 LPGA Tour cards up for grabs. The fight for those last cards will begin when the Q-School finale, Q-Series, kicks off on Thursday.
Tournament Format and the Stakes
Q-Series is a 144-hole stroke-play tournament played across two golf courses in Lower Alabama over two weeks. The event will begin on Thursday at the Magnolia Grove Golf Course on the Crossings and Falls courses in Mobile, Ala. Sunday, after four full rounds of play, there will be a cut to the top-70 and ties. Those top performers will then travel three hours east to Dothan, Ala. where they will compete at Highland Oaks Golf Course. On Dec. 11, the top-45 and ties with the best cumulative scores over two weeks of competition will receive LPGA Tour status for 2023.
Players finishing in the top-20 and ties will earn category 14 status, while those from 21-45 will earn category 15 status and category C Epson Tour status. Those who finish outside the top 45 but compete in all rounds of the tournament will receive Epson Tour status for 2023.
A total of 100 players from all over the world will be competing for LPGA Tour status over the next two weeks. Half of the field earned automatic entry into the final stage of Q-School through their regular season results. Current LPGA players ranked 101-150 in the Race to CME Globe, which includes names like Su Oh and Jennifer Song, are fighting to maintain their places among the world’s best. Next up are Epson Tour players ranked 11-35 in the Ascensus Race for the Card, highlighted by the Epson Tour Championship winner Jaravee Boonchant. Players ranked 1-10 on the LET Order of Merit are also eligible, though only four have entered the tournament. The last eligible group are those within the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings top-75 as of August 8. Plenty of talented names from the JLPGA and KLPGA adorn that list, but only three have entered, led by current world No. 44 Yuna Nishimura.
Stage II Recap
The rest of the field is continuing a long battle to qualify that began a few weeks ago. The top-50 and ties from Stage II of Q-School advanced to Q-Series after battling each other and severe weather that required a play suspension. Despite the elements, Epson Tour’s Becca Huffer and KLPGA’s Seulki Lee managed to shoot 1-under par in the final round and lead the competition at 4-under for the tournament. Huffer was joined by 28 additional Epson Tour members in the top-50, highlighted by top finishers Auston Kim (-2) and Karen Chung (-1).
Two players will enter Q-Series with a little more gas in the tank than their peers after narrowly missing their chance for an LPGA Tour card a few weeks ago. Alexa Pano spent much of her rookie season on the Epson Tour in the Ascensus Race for the Card top 10, buoyed by two runner-up results at the Carolina Golf Classic and Garden City Charity Classic, but when the final putt dropped at the Epson Tour Championship the 18-year-old was bumped to No. 13. Now, Pano is looking for redemption at Q-Series.
Bailey Tardy finished two spots above Pano at No. 11 on the money list, just one spot out of getting her LPGA Tour card. Last season she finished at No. 12. In 2020, she also finished just one place outside of earning LPGA Tour status, ending the season at No. 6 when only five tour cards were given out. After coming oh-so-close so many times in her career, Tardy is ready to snatch her next opportunity.
Several players will have the advantage of experience going into this week’s Q-Series. This will be Isi Gabsa’s third trip to Q-Series in her four years on the LPGA Tour. Though she missed the cut in 2019, she rebounded in 2021, finishing T14 and reclaiming her LPGA membership. Gabsa is no stranger to the final stage of Q-School and is coming off a strong season which bodes well for the German. The 27-year-old closed out the season ranked No. 107 in the Race to CME Globe, her best finish yet.
By Thursday, Kim Kaufman will have made four trips to Q-Series in her nine-year career as a professional golfer. The 31-year-old first qualified for LPGA Tour membership with a T23 finish at Q-Series in 2013. She returned to the event in 2018 when she ended the season at No. 123 on the money list. Kaufman finished T11 to retain her LPGA membership but found herself back at Q-Series a year later with a T30 result that only gave her partial LPGA and Epson Tour status for the abridged 2020 season. She has been a full-time member of the Epson Tour since 2021 and Thursday will mark another battle in Kaufman’s long journey back to the height of the game.