After multiple delays and a rescheduled round, LPGA Q-Series is finally through 72 holes and the cut has been made to the top 60 and ties. While many names stick out at the top of the leaderboard, one player that particularly does so is LPGA Tour veteran and 2023 Epson Tour member Cydney Clanton. So far at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, the North Carolina native has carded four rounds of par or better and currently sits in a tie for 15th at 11-under.
Before she headed out to LPGA Q-Series in Mobile, Ala., the 2023 season was good to Clanton, who picked up an Epson Tour victory at the Guardian Championship and finished the season ranked 31st in the Race for the Card. However, there was one thing Clanton decided to do that not many others would.
Rather than playing in the Epson Tour Championship and trying for a spot in the Race for the Card top 10, which would have required her to win, the Auburn University alum trekked out to Texas to play in The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America on the LPGA Tour. Getting that start, as well as another one at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican put Clanton in a comfortable position heading into LPGA Q-Series.
“I got to play in Tampa a couple of weeks ago, which was a blessing. Instead of having seven weeks off in a row, I had four weeks off and then two weeks off. I was really able to stay focused,” said Clanton. “It's hard to shut down your brain for a couple weeks and turn it back on. Very thankful that I got into Tampa and played really well in Tampa.
“I got to feel all the emotions you're going to feel out here. There is nothing like Q-School. I tell players all the time, players that have been blessed to not ever have to come back, it is a different animal when you're playing for your livelihood. At the end, it is what it is. You have your card, or you don't. It's just a different kind of pressure. So, I'm thankful to be playing well. I wish I wasn't here, but I am where I am and look forward to the next two days.”
Part of her decision to not play the Epson Tour Championship, knowing she was safely in the top 35, also meant that her LPGA Q-Series entry fee was covered by Seiko Epson Corporation. Having seen the tour’s growth since the organization came on as a partner, Clanton recognizes the impact Epson is making and knows the future of the tour is in good hands.
“There is just a misconception around the world what female players get versus male players. This is a really expensive week. They shortened it from eight rounds to six rounds from two locations, but the $2,500 entry fee paid for, that's a blessing, one, financially, and, two, it kind of gives you the ability to hire a caddie, which I think is really important out here,” said Clanton. “You need someone on your bag that's been there, done that and just understands the emotions, the mental and the physical grind of it. Epson has done an amazing job with this tour and is setting up players for the future.”
With just two rounds left to play, Clanton is locked in on securing LPGA Tour Membership for 2024. The 34-year-old has been on the rollercoaster of professional golf for 11 years, and despite questioning whether or not to get off at times, is ready to continue the ride next season. With a positive mindset and a dedication to grinding out the last 36 holes, Clanton could regain her LPGA Tour card and go on a hunt for her second career victory in 2024.
“There have been different times in my career where I've questioned if I'm where I am supposed to be. Last year was one of them,” said Clanton. “It is extremely hard to lose your card. I'm not a young chicken anymore, and a lot of the girls that are playing well are in their low 20s and I'm in my mid-30s now.
“So, I think after this year and just being able to go out and win again (on the Epson Tour), being able to play well in the tournaments that I got in on LPGA, was just kind of another reminder that I am where I'm supposed to be. The goal is to get full status back, and that's why I'm here and that's what the goal is.”