The LPGA has announced details of its new Q-Series at Pinehurst Resort, site of the revamped final stage. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina signed a three-year deal to serve as presenting sponsor of Q-Series, which replaces the final stage of qualifying school traditionally held at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The new Q-Series will feature 144 holes played over two, four-day tournaments with cumulative scores. The $150,000 purse will be distributed at the end of eight rounds. The first tournament will be held over the George and Tom Fazio-designed Pinehurst Course No. 6 from Oct. 24-27. The final four rounds will be held on the Rees Jones-designed Pinehurst Course No. 7 from Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2018. There will be no cut.
The field will include players who finished 101 to 150 and ties on the current-year LPGA official money list as well as players 11 to 30 and ties from the Symetra Tour official money list. A maximum of 10 spots will go to players in the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings while the top five collegiate players in the country (according to Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings) will also be exempt into Q-Series. The field will be rounded out by top finishers from Stage II of Qualifying School. The number of players who will advance from Stage II to Q-Series will be determined prior to the start of Stage II.
At least the top 45 finishers and ties from Q-Series will receive category 14 status on the LPGA Priority List. The rest will earn Symetra Tour membership.
A notable change in particular for college players: Amateurs will be able to defer LPGA membership until July 1 of the following year. While they won’t be able to compete as an amateur on the LPGA using their Q-Series status, they will be able to accept sponsor invites or Monday qualify. This allows college players to complete the spring season before turning professional.
“What I like most about the Q-Series is that it will be a true test for how players will qualify for the LPGA Tour,” said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “The playing status earned by competitors at Q-Series will be a direct reflection of eight rounds of head-to-head competition on a demanding test of golf at Pinehurst Resort.”
Age requirements have also changed. Players age 16 can now compete for Symetra Tour membership in only Stage I and Stage II, if they turn 17 by the end of the year. Players can compete in Q-Series at age 17 if they turn 18 by the end of the year, otherwise a petition process applies.
Stage I of Qualifying School will be held from Aug. 20-26 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., while Stage II will be Oct. 13-18 in Venice, Fla., at the Plantation Golf and Country Club.