IX Filipinos, including a Fil-Am, set out for the tough LPGA Qualifying Tournament Final Stage startingWednesday (Thursday in Manila) at the LPGA International in Florida, a 90-hole tournament among 157 players slugging it out for 20 LPGA Tour cards next year.
Cyna Rodriguez, who failed to keep her card after a so-so rookie campaign this year, is chasing one of the slots along with Symetra Tour veterans Dottie Ardina and Mia Piccio, Fil-Am Clariss Guce, amateur Regina de Guzman and former US Girls’ Junior champion Princess Superal.
This marks the first time the Philippines is fielding a six-player roster in the Final Stage but with only 20 Tour cards up for grabs they must dish out a solid game from Day 1 to Day 5.
“They’re all ready and in high spirits but with a big field and a slew of talented players, they would need a strong start and hope to sustain it all the way to the finish,” said Bong Lopez, coach of former The Country Club mainstays Rodriguez, Ardina, Piccio and Superal, who also handled two-time LPGA Tour winner Jennifer Rosales.
The field will alternate over the first four rounds between the Jones and Hills courses with the top 70 after 72 holes advancing to the final round, to be played at the tougher Hills layout.
The top 20, excluding ties, will earn the coveted LPGA Tour status in Category 12 on the 2017 priority listwhile those that finish 21 through 45, including ties, will earn status in Category 17. Players who complete72 holes but fail to earn LPGA Tour status will receive Symetra Tour status in Category E on the Symetra Tour priority list.
The low medalist will also earn $5,000.
Among the Pinay hopefuls, De Guzman is going into the Final Stage brimming with confidence, having won her second to last tournament – the National Women’s Golf Association – in Daytona Beach, Florida two weeks ago where she beat Thai Prima Thammaraks in the playoff.
Guce has also won two tournaments in the Symetra Tour this year to finish at No. 11 in the ranking while Ardina wound up at No. 21.
Rodriguez will start at 8:55 a.m. on No. 1 with Texas’ Shannon Fish and Camilla Lennarth of Sweden; Ardina is grouped with Jaclyn Jansen of Illinois and Thammaraks at 8:55 a.m. on No. 10; Piccio drew American Angel Yin and England’s Sally Watson at 9:17 a.m., also on No. 10; Guce will tee off at 8:33 a.m. on No. 10 with Kendall Dye of Oklahoma and Taiwanese Ssu Chia Cheng;
De Guzman will play alongside Amber Hensley of the US and fellow amateur Wanasa Zhou of Australia; while Superal kicks off her campaign at 9:50 a.m. with Hungarian Csicsi Rozsa and local ace Vicky Hurst on No. 10. (Malaya)