1973 was the first time that a kind of ‘qualification test’ tournament was held on the LPGA tour. This tournament, which was called the Qualifying School, was held in 5 rounds of 90 holes instead of the usual golf tournament format of 4 rounds and 72 holes. It was called ‘Hell’s Race’ by the players who challenged the Qualifying School because it required a high degree of concentration and stamina for five days in a row.
The LPGA Qualifying School was reorganized into the 2018 Qualifying Series. Instead of playing 8 rounds of 144 holes, the players who will play on the LPGA tour were selected over a total of 2 weeks in 4 rounds. A total of 100 players participate, and the top 70 in the first week compete more in the second week to finally determine who will play on the LPGA tour next season.
Basically, compared to the Qualifying School, it is characterized by a higher level of discrimination. The qualification wall for players to participate in the qualifying series has risen. These include players ranked 11th to 35th in the money rankings 토토사이트 of the Epson Tour, the second part of the tour, players who were pushed out of the 100th place in the CME points rankings in the previous season of the LPGA Tour, and players within the world’s top 75 without an LPGA Tour seed. While making the qualification conditions to enter the LPGA tour more stringent, it brought an opportunity to ease the burden for American college students who had to prepare for the existing qualifying school, college graduation, and NCAA competition at the same time.
Among the golfers who passed the top pass at the LPGA Qualifying School, there were a total of three Korean players. In 1997, Se-Ri Pak tied for first place with Christie Kerr (USA) at the LPGA Qualifying School and entered the LPGA Tour the following year. In 2006, Kim In-kyung and Choi Hye-jung tied for first place in the Qualifying School and entered the LPGA stage. Among foreign players, Julie Inkster (USA) in 1983, Paula Creamer (USA) in 2004, Stacey Lewis (USA) in 2008, Lee Min-ji Lee (Australia) in 2014, and Hataoka Nasa (Japan) in 2017 won the LPGA stage by ranking first in the Qualifying School. These are golfers who made a splendid debut in Lee Jung-eun, who passed the 2018 LPGA Qualifying Series as the top 6.
On the contrary, Korean female golfers achieved better results after being reorganized into a qualifying series. In 2018, the first year of the qualifying series, Lee Jeong-eun 6 passed as the first out of 102 players with a total of 18 under par in 8 rounds. She was in second place until the 7th round. Lee Jung-eun, who succeeded in overturning her in the final round, entered the LPGA Tour after agonizing over whether to advance to the United States at the time. Then, in the 2019 Qualifying Series, Park Hee-young came in second. Hee-Young Park, who was trying to re-enter the LPGA Tour after falling off the money list at the time, was able to return to the LPGA stage thanks to her good performance in her qualifying series. The LPGA Qualifying Series, which was skipped in 2020 in the aftermath of Corona 19, was held again last year, and Annarin passed the top spot, raising the status of Korean women’s golf again.
Then, this year in 2022, the top of the LPGA Qualifying Series was occupied by another Korean player. Yoo Hae-ran (21), a 5-winner in the KLPGA tour, recorded a total of 29 under par 545 strokes in 8 rounds of the qualifying series, easily securing an LPGA tour card for next season. On the first day of the qualifying series, she was sluggish with a 1-over par, but calmly reduced the number of strokes and was honored to pass as the top scorer. Yoo Hae-ran said, “As a Korean player, I am proud to have won (qualifying series) for two consecutive years. I look forward to playing on the LPGA Tour next year,” she said.
This year, Korean women’s golf recorded the fewest wins (four wins) on the LPGA Tour since 2011 (three wins), and spent a season in which the ‘crisis theory’ arose. Still, the future is bright. The golfer who still leaves the strongest impression on the LPGA, and the golfer who will continue to leave a lasting impression, is, of course, the ‘Korean golfer’.