Once-bullied Haley Moore among 19 rookies to earn LPGA cards

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Once-bullied Haley Moore among 19 rookies to earn LPGA cards

LPGA Tour

Once-bullied Haley Moore among 19 rookies to earn LPGA cards

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PINEHURST, N.C. – Forty-six seconds into Haley Moore’s post-round interview, the emotions began to pour out. Her journey to the LPGA began back in August at Stage I. She made the cut on the number last month at Stage II. And in the final round at Pinehurst No. 9, with an LPGA card on the line, Moore found herself 4 over after the first six holes.

A disastrous start.

“My mental game, a couple years back, I wouldn’t have been able to survive like this,” said Moore, who played the rest of the day even par to finish tied for 11th at the eight-round grind called Q-Series. “I worked on it a lot.”

Muni He, an Instagram sensation who built a following as an amateur based on her model-like looks, led wire-to-wire in the second week in Pinehurst, jumping out to a six-shot lead after a 65 and closing out a three-stroke victory over Hee Young Park. Remarkably, He broke par in all eight rounds of Q-Series. She played 50 consecutive holes at Pinehurst No. 9 without a bogey.

Haley Moore after earning tour status at the LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst No. 9 on November 2, 2019. (Courtesy of Michele Moore)

He tried to change her body composition last year thinking she needed to bulk up for more distance. It backfired on her. She went back to the body and the game that got her to the biggest stage in women’s golf and blitzed the field.

“I think I’ve learned that my game is enough for me to build upon,” said He, “and I shouldn’t be changing it just to fit the tour ideal, I guess.”

Yealimi Noh, 18, turned professional in January without having any status on any tour. She contended in several LPGA events but failed to make enough money to avoid starting at the second stage of Q-School.

“I learned a lot about myself,” said Noh. “God, I learned so much about my game even just these last two weeks. I learned a lot from what I can do. … I usually would kind of give up on myself after the first bad round or first bad couple holes. I really learned to bounce back.”

The top 45 finishers earned status for 2020. The higher the finish within the top 45, the better chance at early-season starts on the LPGA.

There are 19 rookies within the 2019 class, including three amateurs who earned status. USC’s Jennifer Chang (T-9) plans to turn professional immediately. Stanford’s Albane Valenuzela (T-6) and Andrea Lee (T-30) are undecided.

The LPGA Q-Series class of 2019 pose for a picture after the final round of the LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst No. 9 on November 2, 2019 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Haley’s father, Tom, who dressed up as Mr. Incredible on Halloween during Q-Series, wiped away tears as he went in for a hug on the 18th green.

As Haley’s mother, Michele, walked over the bridge back to the scoring area she said, “If this was the ANA water, I’d probably jump in there right now.”

And no one would blame her.

Michele shed tears months ago when a Golfweek article that detailed the family’s financial struggles brought over $25,000 to Haley’s GoFundMe account in four days.

The money allowed Haley and her father the ability to travel from California to Florida in advance to prepare for Stage II. The 339,000 Hilton points gave them a place to stay.

Airline miles were gifted to Haley and her mother for the last two stages. Family friends gave the Moores a place to stay on Pinehurst No. 3 these last two weeks. Michele cooked most nights. Mr. Incredible passed out candy to the neighborhood kids.

“It’s been a godsend,” said Michele of the army of support.

Now that support will follow Moore to the LPGA, where she’s ready to share her story of overcoming childhood bullying to the masses.

It’s an inspirational story that has only just begun.

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