The fifth round of LPGA Q-Series saw low rounds on the Crossings Course at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove. Current leader, So Mi Lee shot an impressive 9-under 63, German, Polly Mack signed for an 8-under 64 and Paraguay’s Sofia Garcia was one of three players to shoot 66. Garcia is no stranger to the unique tournament that is LPGA Q-Series, having played in the two-week, eight-round event in 2022, ultimately finishing T24 (-15) and earning dual membership on the Epson and LPGA Tours.
The Texas Tech University alumna had a slow start in Mobile, Ala., carding a first-round, 1-over 72. Knowing it would be a grind to recover, Garcia focused on what was going well during the day rather than the bad. Throughout the next four rounds, she saw more pieces of her game come together, finally feeling comfortable to be aggressive and see her hard work pay off.
“I think I had a little bit of struggle with something every day. Usually, I'm decent from tee to green and the first couple of days was kind of off. But we were able, with my caddie, to put the balls in play,” said Garcia. “Then the putter kind of got hot on I think my second round that I shot 4-under. The putter was working.
“Then next day the hitting was better, but the putting wasn't great. So, I think just balancing some of the good things that you have that day. Today I knew I was playing a bit better, I was getting a bit more aggressive with some lines and being able to figure out quickly what's going on that day and try to play with it.”
Now sitting in a tie for 20th, Garcia is looking to finish strong and earn full LPGA Tour membership for the 2024 season. Having dual membership in 2023 gave the 25-year-old a taste of LPGA Tour life, and she even made her name known in a few tournaments, earning a season-best result of T16 at The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.
But having dual membership isn’t easy. Many athletes must make a decision early in the season, one that comes with plenty of risk – either commit to the Epson Tour in hopes of finishing top 10 in the Race for the Card or hope you play well enough on the LPGA Tour to keep your card for the next year. For Garcia, who likes to plan for weeks at a time, not knowing if you’re in a field until late can get stressful.
“I think definitely for me was tough the beginning of this year because there are some tournaments I got in last minute and a lot of things figuring out. Also, the fact that you're a rookie you're always figuring things out,” said Garcia. “I think I got better through the year taking week by week. I was the type of person who kind of plans everything out for like four, five weeks, and now I'm more okay with, okay, this week is this week. Let's focus on this week and then we'll figure out next week. So, I think that mindset has helped a bit through the year.”
Despite learning and growing in 2023, Garcia could have a little more flexibility in planning if she finishes the final round T20 or better. With 18 holes left to play, the Paraguay native is laser-focused on the task at hand – securing a full-time spot on the LPGA Tour next season.
“Q-School is long. Sometimes you kind of get anxious to finish,” said Garcia. “Definitely rain kind of got the best of us, and being able to be like, okay, we have a task today. Let's focus on today and we'll figure out tomorrow later. I think that's a good mindset for Q-School.”