LPGA: Meet the 2013 Symetra Tour graduates
Here's a quick look at the top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list, who with their finish earned LPGA cards for 2014.
Among the 10 grads, seven played college golf and five are Americans. Other countries represented include Thailand, Italy, Canada and France. Perrine Delacour was the only card winner who played her way into the top 10 at the Symetra Tour Championship. She finished second to knock out Olivia Jordan-Higgins of the U.K., who missed the cut.
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1. P.K. Kongkraphan
The smiley Thai player took the money title with $47,283. Petite but athletic, Kongkraphan averages around 260 off the tee. Improved distance control with her irons throughout the season led to a string of four consecutive top-6 finishes. Kongkraphan tied for seventh in Daytona Beach to secure the money title with a third-round 65. The player simply known as “P.K.” has a band back home in Thailand and bought a new guitar after her victory in Concord. She sang for the tour staff over the summer in Syracuse.
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2. Guila Molinaro
Symetra rookie made a big push the last two events, moving from 13th on the money list to second. The Italian player grew up on her parents’ posh safari camp in Kenya. She returns every winter to see the animals and kite surf. Molinaro won the Friends of Mission Charity Classic in May with a closing 65. She was the 2012 Pac 12 Player of the Year.
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3. Marina Alex
2012 Vandy grad birdied her final hole on Friday to make the cut and clinch her card. She then played 36-holes in 7-under to finish in the top 10 for the sixth time this season. Alex didn’t win this year, but she never missed a cut. Began working with Joe Hallett – Stacy Lewis’ instructor – her senior year of college and put some zip on her ball. Ranked second on the tour in GIRs.
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4. Christine Song
The only two-time winner on the Symetra Tour this season, Song plays a down-the-middle type game that could use a little more pop at the next level. Her average off the tee: 223 yards. Song, 22, turned professional out of high school and by age 18 had won two tournaments on the Symetra Tour. The Sean Foley pupil will take an improved short game back to the LPGA in January, and, if all goes as planned this offseason, some added distance.
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5. Cydney Clanton
Former Auburn standout briefly considered leaving professional golf to pursue a college coaching career, but then won at the Four Winds Invitational in June and squashed the idea. A closing 65 at the Volvik Championship at Reunion last week proved to Clanton that she can still go low. The 2012 LPGA rookie said this next time around, she’ll try to be more social on the road to lead a more balanced life.
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6. Sue Kim
Former Denver player posted three top-3 finishes this season, including a victory at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic. Kim’s road to the LPGA took a cruel turn when her father died in a car accident in the summer of 2010. The life-changing event caused her to question her career path. But she stuck with it, and now, in her third year on the Symetra, broke though in a way that would’ve made her father proud.
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7. Hannah Jun
Longtime Symetra Tour rookie (and soon-to-be bride) posted seven top-10 finishes this season in 15 starts. Jun first earned her LPGA card at Q-School soon after graduating from UCLA in 2007, but found herself on the Symetra Tour a year later. She finished ninth on the money list in 2010 to get back on the LPGA but the second stint also was short-lived. She spent 2012 and ’13 on Symetra. Perhaps it’s third time’s the charm for the Bruin.
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8. Perrine Delacour
The Frenchwoman put together an heroic effort on the back nine Sunday to secure her card in dramatic fashion. Nothing less than a solo second would put Delacour into the top 10. A back-nine 32 pushed her into what she thought was a tie for second with Paula Reto as she left the golf course late Sunday night. But Reto had recorded a double-bogey on the 16th hole rather than a bogey, and when she came to the course to finish her last two holes on Monday, bogeyed the 17th. The South African’s gift vaulted Delacour from 20th to eighth on the money list. One thing she might want to get as soon as she returns to the U.S. in 2014: An American driver’s license. Looks like she’ll need it.
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9. Alena Sharp
LPGA veteran missed her charity event – the Bader Sharp Shootout –to play in the Symetra Tour Championship. The Ontario native came into the week in a vulnerable ninth place on the money list and, despite a final-round 77, managed to stay put. Sharp missed nine of 12 cuts on the LPGA to put her in danger of losing her card. She needed only eight starts on the developmental circuit to keep it. Sharp was a rookie on the LPGA in 2005 and graduated from New Mexico State in ’03.
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10. Jaclyn Sweeney
The only player to be ranked in the top 10 all season, Sweeney barely held on, claiming the last card by $114. Sweeney confessed to having the shakes most of Sunday as she tried to right the ship after three missed cuts. The former ASU player went back to school this year and she said the sting of paying $9K in tuition before the last several events caused her to press for cash. She graduated from the Symetra Tour on Monday but will get her degree from ASU Dec. 6. Sweeney won the season-opening event in Arizona.