Two former IJGA students earned Category 17 status on the LPGA after the third and final stage of LPGA Qualifying School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Stephanie Meadow finished in a tie for 21st place while Marta Sanz Barrio finished in a tie for 43rd place. Both players were competing in the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School for the first time.
The final stage of LPGA Qualifying School is a five-round stroke-play competition with everyone in the top 45 earning some sort of LPGA status. Players in the top 20 earn Category 12 status, which is equivalent to full-time status on the LPGA. Contestants who finish in places 21-45 earn Category 17 status.
Meadow posted an even-par 72 in the first round, and then really put herself in contention for a LPGA card after hersecond round 6-under-par 66. The next two rounds for Meadow, a even-par 72 and a 1-under-par 71 put her in prime position heading into the pressure-packed final round. Meadow struggled on the last day, but she was able to hole a four-foot putt on the last hole to finish at 4-under-par and finish inside the top 20.
Seven players finished tied for 18th place which meant there would be a playoff for the last three LPGA Tour cards. In order to break the tie, the tournament committee announced a three-hole aggregate playoff with the lowest total combined score earning the cards. Meadow played the holes in even-par which was good enough to advance to a second three-hole aggregate playoff with six other competitors for three LPGA cards. After two competitors earned their cards, Meadow was left with two other players competing in sudden death playoff for the last remaining spot. After five holes, Meadow was finally outdone by Karlin Beck who holed a 75-foot chip shot to earn the last LPGA card.
“This is tough,” said an emotional Meadow. “I didn’t play bad, I probably had the most opportunities but I wasn’t able to make anything.”
With her finish, Meadow earned Category 17 status, which will give her opportunities to compete on the Symetra Tour as well as some LPGA events. Meadow will also be able to earn exemptions into tournaments based on her accomplishments at the University of Alabama and this year’s third-place finish in the U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s good, but it is not what I wanted,” said the 2013-14 First-Team All-American at Alabama. “I’m still proud to be an LPGA Tour member and I’ll have a lot of opportunities to play my way into better status.”
Sanz Barrio, who recently graduated from Auburn University, had a great showing shooting rounds of 72-71-72-71-75 to finish just inside the number to earn Category 17 status. This will provide her the platform to play on the Symetra Tour and in some LPGA events.