At least one college standout plans to go pro after LPGA Q-Series

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At least one college standout plans to go pro after LPGA Q-Series

LPGA Tour

At least one college standout plans to go pro after LPGA Q-Series

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Jennifer Chang knew she wouldn’t be returning to USC even before she struck the first shot at LPGA Q-Series. The USC junior let her coach know before she left for Stage II of LPGA Q-School that she wouldn’t be back for the spring season.

Chang, one of five college players in the field at Q-Series, is No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

“I feel that I’m ready to go out there and be with the big girls,” said Chang, who secured Symetra Tour status after the second stage of Q-School. She’ll need to finish in the top 45 at Q-Series to receive Category 14 status on the 2020 LPGA Priority List.

Chang is one of 98 players in the field at Q-Series vying for tour status and a $150,000 purse. The eight-round event is held Oct. 23-Nov. 2 at Pinehurst Resort, a place that feels like home to the Cary, North Carolina, resident. Chang won four state high school titles at Pinehurst, including one on No. 6, where the first 72 holes will be contested.

Chang also participated in several U.S. Kids World Championships at Pinehurst as well as the prestigious North and South Amateur. Last summer she advanced to the quarterfinals of the North and South and will use the same local caddie at Q-Series.

Chang began her Q-School journey at Stage I and said she spoke with former USC player Robynn Ree for insight into professional life. Ree competed on the LPGA in 2018 and the Symetra Tour in 2019. She finished eighth on the money list, winning twice, to get back on the LPGA next season.

“She has given me all the sides to the pro life,” said Chang. “I’ve heard the really hard, challenging things about it.”

USC coach Justin Silverstein isn’t thrilled to lose the 11th-ranked player in the world, but still feels comfortable with the roster he’ll have in the spring. It’s too late to replace Chang for January, he said, unless something surprising happens.

Losing top players early to the pro ranks, Silverstein said, comes with territory these days.

“I’m not going to be one of those programs that complains about it,” he said. “Almost look at it a little bit like Kentucky basketball – it’s kind of a badge of honor.”

Since Silverstein took over the program in July 2018, he has seen Chang tidy up her iron game and improve her putting stats by almost a half a shot.

A first-team All-American last season, Chang won twice as a sophomore and led the Trojans in scoring. USC won seven times in 2018-19 and didn’t lose a single player.

That is, until Chang decided to go pro.

“I want to see this new side of golf,” she said of playing with the pros. “I’m really excited to see what that’s like.”

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