Back in competition mode after a week off, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour heads into the 11th tournament of the season with Muni He (Chengdu, China) the latest Symetra Tour champion and our Volvik Race for the Card “Move of the Week” recipient.
Following her first professional victory on July 1 at the Prasco Charity Championship and $15,000 winner’s check, He climbed 34 places in the Volvik Race for the Card. She’ll begin the second half of the Symetra Tour schedule at No. 13 in the standings.
“I feel good and comfortable about the position that I’m currently in,” said He. “I think it’s a great position because I have the room to play well the rest of the year and have a possibility to be within the top-10. It won’t be easy and will take a lot of good results, but it is possible.”
Another major move up the rankings after the Prasco Charity Championship came from Becca Huffer (Denver, Colorado), who captured a career-best solo second result at TPC River’s Bend. The University of Notre Dame alumna launched 22 spots to settle in at No. 19.
Like the rest of the 144-player field converging on French Lick Resort this week for the Donald Ross Classic, Huffer is eager to compete for the $225,000 purse, tied with the Symetra Tour Championship for the largest on Tour in 2018. With the pot comes a $33,750 winner’s share.
“I'm excited about where my game is at heading into the second half of the season,” Huffer said. “It would be awesome to have another good finish this week at French Lick, especially with the big purse, but I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself because there is still a lot of golf left in the season. My plan is to just keep playing with the same mindset I had in Cincinnati.”
Meanwhile, the top-10 remained unchanged following the 10th event, which preceded a short break for players to get their bearings and reset their focus.
Even though she missed the inaugural Prasco Charity Championship to compete in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on a sponsor exemption, Jenny Haglund (Karlstad, Sweden) still holds the No. 1 position with $49,751 collected across eight starts. The second player to pass the $40,000 threshold this season is Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines), who did so with a tied for 42nd finish in Ohio.
Rounding out the upper half of the top-10 is a trio of 2018 Symetra Tour champions separated by a difference of $1,568. Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) checks in at No. 3 having earned $38,869 over nine events. Close behind at $37,467 is Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany), then Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China), just $166 back at No. 5.
“I’m definitely excited with where I’ve positioned myself so far this season, but continue to stay focused and not think too much about the future,” Szokol said. “Instead, I’m focused on one round and one tournament at a time. This keeps me grounded and focused, as I still have more goals to achieve.”
The bottom half of the top-10 is also the same. Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) and Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida) have distinguished themselves from the group with $36,995 and $34,007, respectively. From there, rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand) trails the No. 7 spot by $3,814.
Furthermore, at No. 9 is Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea), who joined the top-10 after her tied for second performance in the Island Resort Championship. Since she skipped the last event, Kwak enjoyed a two-week hiatus heading into the Donald Ross Classic and has earned $27,334 in seven starts.
“When I play in the tournament every week, my goal is to finish in the top-10,” said Kwak. “Being in the top-10 on the money list means I accomplished my goal. To maintain my position I need energy and strength, so I try to rest when I can to play better golf.”
Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) is the final piece to the top-10 puzzle with $24,984 and a win to her name. Also in the mix just behind Schechter and slightly ahead of He is Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England) and Louise Ridderström (Stocksund, Sweden), a duo that has spent time in the top-10 at various points this season. A total of $940 stands between Schechter at No. 10 and He at No. 13.