LPGA denies Ariya Jutanugarn's Q-School plea

Ariya Jutanugarn

Ariya Jutanugarn

Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn spent the past week on opposite sides of the country, competing in separate events. That’s a trend likely to continue as the LPGA recently denied a petition from Ariya, 16, to join sister Moriya, 17, at Q-School in the fall.

Players must turn 18 by Jan. 1 to be eligible for the qualifying process, and the younger Jutanugarn, who will be 17 on Nov. 23, will be a year shy. The LPGA declined to comment on the decision, which comes a year after Lexi Thompson, then 16, received a pass. Thompson won first stage by 10 shots, then won the LPGA Navistar Classic two months later, leading LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to grant her an LPGA card for 2012.

If Moriya, who turns 18 on July 28, earns a card, it could mean a year of separation for the traveling Jutanugarns. Ariya says she still won’t pursue college, and will remain an amateur for now. The Jutanugarns, from Thailand, won’t appeal the LPGA’s decision.

“I just want to play with Moriya at the same time, make it easier because we go together all the time,” Ariya said after losing in the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior in Daly City, Calif. Moriya advanced to the quarterfinals at the North & South Women’s Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C.

In addition to Thompson, the LPGA also has granted exemptions to 17-year-olds Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel and Aree Song. Petitions from Yani Tseng and Inbee Park were denied.

Jutanugarn and Thompson have similar amateur resumes. Each won the U.S. Girls’ Junior (Thompson in 2008, Jutanugarn in ’11) and held the top spot in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings. Thompson’s best U.S. Women’s Open finish in three starts as an amateur was T-34. Jutanugarn missed the cut the past two years, her only Open starts, but twice has been the low amateur at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She was T-12 at this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand, a tournament she first played at age 11.

“I feel sad because . . . they tell me I’m too young,” Jutanugarn said. “I think I have a chance to qualify at Q-School for the LPGA. I just want to try.”

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