Stage I of Q School — Welcome to the LPGA, Maja Stark — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Aug. 18, 2022
Happy Golf Thursday y’all! The weather this week in Virginia has been every golfer’s dream — unfortunately — I can’t say the same for the 300+ women out in Palm Springs, California chasing their LPGA dreams at the moment in Q School.
Imagine playing some of the most crucial rounds of golf of your career (that costs you $2,500) and you can’t even be properly hydrated by the venue. The women on the “Road to the LPGA” simply don’t get enough credit for how much dedication they have to their craft. And beyond the hours spent in the gym and practice on the course, they also spend a lot of time fundraising money to support themselves! Last November, I interviewed Epson Tour player Hannah Gregg, who is also a co-founder of Short Game Gains and an influencer. Hannah is in the field this week at Mission Hills and I’m sending her all the positive vibes!
In my first month here at The IX, I covered the Q Series, which is the final stage of qualifying school. We discussed the format of Q school and who qualifies, but things have changed a bit since then. The biggest change that was announced earlier this year is that players must turn professional in order to compete for LPGA membership.
When the decision was made Chief Tour Business and Operations Officer for the LPGA Ricki Lasky said, “LPGA Q-Series is the final stage to competing on the LPGA Tour, which is a fully professional tour that requires that its Membership competes as professional athletes. Ensuring all competitors have made the same choice to be a professional player elevates the Q-Series competition and creates the most appropriate options for athletes at different stages of their careers.”
One thing that remains the same is that all players who make it through stage II, regardless of if they’re pros or amateurs, will get Epson Tour status. Meaning that amateurs still have an opportunity to compete in Epson events. On this topic, Lasky stated, “Providing Epson Tour status to those athletes who advance through Q School but choose to retain their college eligibility provides an appropriate pathway for those players to complete their college season or career and then immediately compete on the Epson Tour.”
Another topic we haven’t discussed yet is the cost of Q school. And it’s crazy. The Stage I entry fee is $2,500, while the Stage II is qualifier is $4,000 for golfers exempt from Stage 1, or $3,000 for those who advanced out of Stage 1. The Q-Series is free for players who already paid a total of $5,500 to advance from Stage 1, and it costs $1,500 for players who began and advanced from Stage 2 (total cost is $4,500). For players who are exempt into Q-Series, there are two entry fees. For LPGA and Epson Tour players, the Q-Series entry fee is $3,000, but it jumps to $5,500 for non-LPGA members and collegiate golfers seeking LPGA status.
These numbers are astounding. Rates that I simply couldn’t imagine paying for, but what’s the price of a dream? It’s not even a dream, it’s an investment. These players are betting on themselves and their talent. The best of luck to all of these women (FYI: this is the live scoring leaderboard), they are bad ass regardless of their status.
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at email@example.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
Everything is bigger and better in Texas! The LPGA Texas Fall Stop will now be called The Ascendant LPGA for the benefit of Volunteers of America and it will feature a bigger purse.
Suzann Pettersen names Laura Davies, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Martens as three vice captains for 2023 Solheim.
Congratulations are in order, Lydia Ko is engaged! And wedding planning won’t slow her down.
Sweden’s Linn Grant and Maja Stark, two of the hottest players in golf, are already a foursomes juggernaut and primed for the Solheim stage.
Epson Tour News
Ssu-Chia Cheng claimed the 2022 Potawatomi Cup title after her top finishes at the Island Resort Championship and Four Winds Invitational.
Stanford’s Rose Zhang wins Mark H. McCormack medal as world’s best female amateur golfer for third consecutive year.
Five at The IX: The LPGA’s newest member, Maja Stark
Q. This is a tri-sanctioned event. This also means you become a first-time winner on the LPGA Tour. This also gives you an opportunity to accept membership. What does that mean to you?
MAJA STARK: It means the world. That was all I came here for. Like I just wanted that winner’s category. I was so nervous. I hate qualifying. It’s great that I don’t have to do that again.
Q. Let’s talk about the 18th hole. Were you taking that flag on the left on? You obviously missed it left in the water and the up-and-down was amazing.
MAJA STARK: Yeah, no, I was not aiming there. I was aiming as far right on the green as you possibly could, but then I don’t even know what happened to be honest. I flushed it 30 meters left. That’s a shame, but it’s fine.
Q. When you were younger you said, I am Tiger Woods. Do you think that will change now to I am Maja Stark?
MAJA STARK: Yeah, I think it will. I mean, after last week, my coach just said, don’t try to be Tiger Woods, try to be you. I hope that I did that.
Q. How are you feeling after that? It was a super performance today. You really came in all guns blazing, and it was 20-under par in the end.
MAJA STARK: Yeah, I’m just relieved. I think, yeah, it hasn’t settled yet. Yeah, just super, super happy. Finally I can play on the LPGA and that’s where I want to be.
Q. Your first ever win on the LPGA; is that a dream come true?
MAJA STARK: Yeah, for sure. I did not expect this at all. If you told me a year ago that I would have a win on the LPGA, I would not have believed it.
Q. It’s only a year ago that you actually turned professional?
MAJA STARK: Yeah, so almost my one-year anniversary.
Q. Nice way to celebrate. What will this mean to your family, friends, all your supporters back home, as well?
MAJA STARK: Well, I think they’ll be super happy for me. I think my parents will get a lot of questions now, even more than they already get, but I think they’ll just be so happy for me because it’s such a team effort.
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