A record 362 players will take part in the first stage of LPGA Q-School this week at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. A cut will be made to top 125 and ties after 54 holes. The final round will take place on the Dinah Shore Course, host of the ANA Inspiration, and the top 90 and ties will advance to the second stage. There are three stages in all, with the final taking place Nov. 27-Dec. 3 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Twenty players will earn their full cards for 2018.
The record number is hardly a surprise, given the reported changes that are taking place next year making it more difficult to go straight onto the LPGA.
Interest in LPGA Q-School has experienced a sharp increase in the past four years. In 2013, 247 signed up for the first stage. Now officials use three courses (Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Dinah Shore) to get the field of 300-plus around.
Players who complete 54 holes will receive Symetra Tour status for 2018, though it’s quite limited at Category M.
There are 83 amateurs in the field, including Linnea Strom of Sweden, who ranks 11th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Strom is a junior at Arizona State and helped the Sun Devils clinch the 2017 NCAA title.
The top five players in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and WAGR are exempt into the second stage, as are those inside the top 400 of the Rolex Rankings.
Other notable college players in the field: Bailey Tardy (Georgia) and Robynn Ree (USC) and Swiss twins Morgane and Kim Metraux (Florida State).
Sierra Brooks, 19, left Wake Forest last spring and has also entered the Q-School field as an amateur. 2017 NCAA champ Monica Vaughn has withdrawn.
There are 41 countries outside the United States represented, with Sweden leading the way at 19 participants and 10 from Australia, Canada and South Korea. India has nine players in the field, up from zero in 2014. Aditi Ashok, a 2016 Olympian, went through all three stages of Q-School last year and currently sits 74th on the LPGA money list.
Among the Indians in the field is Sharmilla Nicollet, who won an exemption into the ShopRite LPGA Classic via a fan twitter vote. Nicollet has more than 500,000 followers combined on Twitter and Instagram.