Howard, 17, optimistic about budding pro career

Ginger Howard hits a shot during the first stage of LPGA Q-School.

Not long ago, the junior golf circuit was all 17-year-old Ginger Howard knew. Now the Suncoast Ladies Series – a developmental pro circuit in Florida – has become her new playground, and judging by her domination in three of the past four events, she has taken the transition in good stride.

Howard is the latest youngster to advance from junior golf to the pros, joining contemporaries Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda. Howard turned professional June 7, won a Suncoast event the following week, and has since added two more victories on that tour to her resume.

“The reason why I made the decision was I felt 100 percent committed, I didn’t have any doubts,” Howard said of deciding to skip college golf in favor of a professional career. “Also my play in the Ladies Suncoast Series, and I was playing well so it was just like a no-brainer.

“I just thought that making the jump would be great and fun and exciting and so far it is.”

Howard said the decision was one she made with her family, without consulting friends Thompson and Korda. After being waved into the first stage of LPGA tour Qualifying School last week with a special exemption based on her resume and Suncoast experience, Howard found herself paired with eventual winner Thompson during the final round. Howard went on to finish T-4 with an 11-under 277 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., which served to justify her decision even more in her mind.

“I thought it was really cool that I’m in their (Korda and Thompson’s) group, I guess you could say.”

Howard, a former Junior Solheim Cupper and the 2008 Big “I” champion, has one year of home-schooling left before earning her high school diploma. She has a rosy outlook for the future.

“If I just have two more tournaments just like this, considering I’m in Q-School, I’ll be set and I’ll have my card in no time. I just have to keep consistent play and same mindset the whole time.”

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