Kongkraphan to top Symetra money list, earn card

P.K. Kongkraphan during the 2013 Symetra Tour Championship, during which she earned a 2014 LPGA Tour card.

P.K. Kongkraphan during the 2013 Symetra Tour Championship, during which she earned a 2014 LPGA Tour card.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – P.K. Kongkraphan quietly pumped her fist a couple times late Sunday evening as she walked off the ninth green. She’d just unofficially won the Symetra Tour Money List, punctuated by a 7-under, 36-hole finish at the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship.

“I made my goal,” she said, a mile-wide smile breaking across her face. “My dream came true.”

Kongkraphan, a petite 21-year-old Thai player who won once this year and came into the final event with $43,848, said every part of her game has improved. She’ll be one of 10 players to earn an LPGA card for the 2014 season.

Because rain wiped out Saturday’s play, the tour aimed for a 36-hole Sunday finish. When play was halted at 7:18 p.m., the final group had two holes remaining. Perrine Delacour, a Frenchwoman who made a terrific surge as darkness approached, is the only potential spoiler in the mix.

Delacour sat in the clubhouse late Sunday after a final-round 66 trying to work out her travel changes, as a second-place finish here would vault her into the top 10. Delacour stands in third place at 11 under, one stroke behind Megan McChrystal and Paula Reto. (Players must be on site to accept their LPGA card.)

McChrystal putted out on the 17th just before play was halted. Reto had two holes left to finish. Neither McChrystal nor Reto can crack the top 10 of the money list with a victory, but finishing inside the top 20 does have an additional perk: a free pass to the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

“It’s a bonus,” said McChrystal. “Saves a little money.”

Play will resume at 8 a.m. Monday and the card ceremony will immediately follow in the clubhouse. Six players are still on the course.

Jaclyn Sweeney, the only player who has been ranked in the top 10 all season, birdied her 72nd hole to make one last push to keep her spot.

“I finally stopped shaking, which is good,” said Sweeney, who had trouble keeping her hands still the first 27 holes.

Sweeney had missed her last three consecutive cuts heading into the week, adding significant pressure.

The former Arizona State player went back to school this year and said the $9,000 she paid recently in tuition didn’t help. She suddenly felt pressed to earn some cash, and the pressure left her stalled.

If all works in Sweeney’s favor, she’ll have two graduation ceremonies this winter. She’ll finish her degree at ASU on Dec. 6, and, if she manages to hold onto the 10th spot tomorrow, will have an early graduation party in Daytona.

“I hope it’s enough,” she said after signing her card.

Marina Alex had unfinished business with the 18th hole at LPGA International’s Jones Course. A three-putt for par there on the last hole of LPGA Q-School left her one shot short of earning her card. This week, she birdied the 18th hole Friday to make the cut by one and shot 68-69 Sunday to move into the top 10 and secure her card for 2014.

“Now, I can finally let it go,” said a much-relieved Alex.

Alex, a 2012 Vanderbilt grad, didn’t win on tour this year, but she also never missed a cut. In 14 events, Alex will have placed in the top 20 10 times.

“Every week is so important,” said Alex. “If you’re not going to win, you need to have a consistent year.”

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