RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — With the Symetra Tour enjoying an off week and the LPGA Tour in Canada for the CP Women’s Open, the remainder of eyes in the women’s golf world shift to the Golden State for Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament from Aug. 22-25.
A field of 359 players is set to compete on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course and Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Mission Hills Country Club, as well as Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club just three miles down the road in Palm Desert.
“It is always exciting to get the LPGA Qualifying Tournament underway and begin the process of finding the next wave of LPGA Tour rising stars,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the Chief Operations Officer of the LPGA Tour. “This is the first of three steps in Q-School determining LPGA and Symetra Tour status for the 2020 season. Every competitor comes to California hoping to advance and eventually fulfill their dream of one day playing on the LPGA Tour. We can’t wait to find out who joins that group come November.”
Individuals will battle in a 72-hole stroke play format, featuring a cut after 54 holes to a minimum of the low 125 players and ties. However, the next score, or scores, will be included within the cut if the total number of players does not exceed 156.
Action begins at 7:15 a.m. PDT all four days and the rotation of Dinah Shore-Arnold Palmer-Shadow Ridge is set for the first three rounds. Meanwhile, the final round will be played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course.
“Stage I is an amazing opportunity to put yourself in competition with elite golfers from all around the globe,” said Summar Roachell (Conway, Arkansas), who advanced to Q-Series from Stage I last year and owns a season-best result of tied for 35th at the PHC Classic. “It’s a place where you get a fresh start, all that matters is the current moment. You don’t have to worry how previous tournaments went, or where you’re at in rankings and the impact it could have. You simply go out and put your best foot forward.”
As temperatures soar well over the 100 degrees Fahrenheit threshold, competitors and their caddy will use carts. Furthermore, a minimum of the top-95 players and ties will advance to Stage II from Oct. 14-17 in Venice, Fla., on the Panther Course and Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club.
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF STAGE I
A total of 43 countries are represented this week at Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, led by the United States with 201 players then followed by Canada having the next highest of 20 competitors.
“It is really cool to see both amateur and professional golfers from around the world come together all with a common goal of pursuing their dream to one day play on the LPGA Tour,” said Linda Henriksson (Helsinki, Finland), who has made seven starts on the Symetra Tour as a rookie with a season-best tied for 21st result at the Four Winds Invitational. “I’m really excited to get the process started and definitely think my experiences on Symetra Tour and Women’s All Pro Tour helped me prepare for this. Playing in four-day tournaments on the WAPT really improved my game and Symetra Tour has been helpful in that I have realized the level required for the LPGA.”
Individuals from 38 different states are also set to tee it up in Coachella Valley. A total of 39 players hail from the host state, while Texas boasts a close second with 27.
“It really does feel comfortable and calling this region home my whole life means I’ve grown up on these golf courses,” said Gabby Then (Rancho Cucamonga, California), who resides just 80 miles up the road from the host venues. “My sister [Angella] is going to caddy for me and she knows how to keep focused, yet create a fun environment. We’ve both played this tournament before, so there is a lot of familiarity. I also love that I have my own car to drive to the course, as cheesy as that sounds.”
VOELKER PUTTING EXPERIENCES TO THE TEST
She may be gearing up for her first taste of Q-School, but Greta Isabella Voelker (Witten, Germany) is no stranger to the professional game.
The 2017 Big 12 Freshman of the Year for the University of Texas was a tournament sponsor exemption at the SKYiGOLF Championship, which opened the 2019 Symetra Tour campaign. That experience gave her an opportunity to see what she could expect for tour life.
“It helped me know that I can compete with these girls and gave me a little bit of a confidence booster,” said Voelker, who made the cut in North Port, Fla. and finished solo 67th. “There’s really good girls here who all want the same thing and I’m one of them, hopefully one to make it. You have to stay humble, do your best and keep your head together while also knowing that everyone else playing is really good.”
In addition to her appearance on the “Road to the LPGA,” Voelker was victorious at the Neuchatel Ladies Championship in May. She was also a tournament sponsor exemption for that event, which is part of the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series schedule. Upon the conclusion of Stage I, Voelker will go back across the pond to play three more Access Series tournaments, which her victory cleared the way for.
“Playing in Europe is really fun, being on the Tour and getting used to the pressure,” Voelker said. “A lot different than college because I’m all by myself, plan and practice on my own. It is a lot of fun to know that every shot counts for your status, or ranking.”