NAPLES, FLA | Right now the top 60 on the LPGA Tour are preparing for the CME Group Tour Championship. On Sunday one of them will take home a $2 million winner’s check. Meanwhile, less than two hours away in Venice, Florida, 178 players are set to compete in Stage II of Q-School just for a chance to earn their LPGA Tour spots at Q-Series in December.
Making her CME Group Tour Championship debut this week, LPGA Tour rookie Allisen Corpuz has been on both sides of the coin – fighting for the biggest check in women’s golf and simply fighting for a job. Last year, Corpuz finished T7 at Stage II to advance to Q-Series and eventually earn her LPGA card. It’s a surreal feeling for her to be at Tiburon Golf Club considering where she was just a year ago.
“It’s been a great rookie year, really, really had a lot of fun out here,” Corpuz said Wednesday. “Obviously going through Q-School is really stressful. But just worked really hard and told myself, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ That’s how I’ve taken this year as well, so it’s really nice to just be at the Tour Championship. It kind of feels unreal.”
Though Andrea Lee is a few years removed from her last visit to Stage II – after missing the cut in 2018, she competed in 2019 and went on to earn her LPGA card for the 2020 season – she remembers the experience well.
“It’s definitely a grind, Q-School is just a fight to the finish,” Lee said Tuesday. “I’m wishing all those girls out there good luck. It’s been a journey of the last couple of years to come from there to full time on the LPGA Tour and get my first win this year. It’s just been kind of a roller coaster. But I feel like it’s definitely necessary to have those difficult times to get through and succeed on the LPGA Tour.”
Both Corpuz and Lee believe that Stage II might be the most important week of qualifying school. For Lee, getting though Stage II gave her the confidence and momentum to succeed at Q-Series. Corpuz was more nervous for Stage II than Q-Series because of the Epson Tour implications.
“I think it’s good to get through Stage II, because that gives you Epson status and then hopefully LPGA status,” Corpuz said. “I think Stage II is maybe even more pressure than Q-Series, just trying to get the full Epson status as well.”
Considering everything on the line for the 178 players at Plantation Golf and Country Club, Corpuz and Lee have some advice and plenty of well wishes for all the LPGA and Epson Tour hopefuls.
“Trust yourself,” Corpuz said. “Everyone has the game to compete, it’s just doing it the week of. Trust your game and control what you can control.”
Lee added: “Just stay so patient because it’s just a grind for everyone. Everyone’s going to have bad holes or a bad day, but don’t ever give up until it’s over. It’s seriously not over until it’s over, so fight through, grind through and it’ll all be worth it in the end.”
Lilia Vu, who is making her CME Group Tour Championship debut with Corpuz and joined Lee at Stage II in 2019, also had some advice for everyone in Venice this week.
“Don’t get so worked up over bad shots,” said Vu. “Everybody hits bad shots. My college coach always told me this, ‘it only takes one good shot per hole to make par.’ So, if you have one bad drive it’s okay. You just try to hit the next shot better, because every shot could be the next best shot you’ve ever hit in your life.”
Though it may be three years away or just one short season away, the journey from Stage II to the CME Group Tour Championship is well-traveled by some of the LPGA Tour’s hottest rising stars. With Corpuz, Lee and Vu leading the way, there’s sure to be exciting talent at Stage II to look out for this year and beyond.