We’ve known for more than a year but it’s finally official. The final stage of LPGA Q-School as it has been known is no more. In its place is LPGA Q-Series, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
The Q-Series will be two tournaments over two weeks at two different golf courses, a total of 144 holes, the cumulative total of which will determine who goes straight to the LPGA Tour. Wednesday it was announced that the two courses are Pinehurst No. 6 and Pinehurst No. 7. The dates are Oct. 24-27 and Oct. 31-Nov. 3.
“We’re very happy that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has decided to partner with the LPGA in the launch of the Q-Series,” said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. “Together we will identify the next group of LPGA stars through this new and exciting format. Pinehurst Resort will provide a world-class platform for the competitors in their quest to qualify for the LPGA Tour, all in an enhanced format that we’re really excited to showcase in October.”
The field will consist of the players who finished 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list; players who are 11th through 30th on the Symetra Tour money list (Nos. 1 through 10 on the Symetra Tour graduate to the LPGA); 10 players from the top of the Rolex Rankings who are not otherwise eligible (this is primarily for players who have earned their way up the rankings on the Ladies European Tour or the Korean LPGA Tour); the top five collegiate players in the country; and approximately 60 players who advance through the first two stages of LPGA qualifying.
There will be no cut and about 45 players will earn LPGA Tour membership, with the rest earning spots on the Symetra Tour. The college players will be allowed to defer turning pro until the following summer so that they may finish the school year.
“What I like most about the Q-Series is that it will be a true test for how players will qualify for the LPGA Tour,” Whan said. “The playing status earned by competitors at Q-Series will be a direct reflection of eight rounds of head-to-head competition on a demanding test of golf at Pinehurst Resort.”
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Stage I and Stage II of LPGA qualify remain unchanged except for some new age parameters. Sixteen-year-olds may compete in Stage I and Stage II to earn Symetra Tour status so long as they turn 17 by the end of the year while 17-year-olds may compete in the Q-Series so long as they turn 18 by the end of the year. Otherwise, the petition process that has been in place applies.
Stage I will be played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in August and Stage II will be at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., Oct. 13-18.