The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, handed out 10 LPGA Tour cards for the 2016 season following the Symetra Tour Championship at LPGA International on Sunday. The top 10 finishers on the Symetra Tour’s Volvik Race for the Card money list will play full-time on the LPGA Tour through category nine on the LPGA priority list.
Annie Park, a 20-year-old out of USC, won both Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
The big move on Sunday came from Brianna Do, who closed at 13-under for the weekend and solo second for the second consecutive week. Do jumped from No. 12 to No. 3 on the final money list. Two weeks ago, Do was 18th on the money list and used back-to-back second place finishes to earn her card. She was 22-under over the last seven rounds to earn her card.
Of course there was heartbreak too. Only $284 kept 11th-place finisher Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu out of the swimming pool.
Here’s a look at the LPGA Tour qualifiers, some of whom have been here before:
1. Annie Park, 20 – Levittown, N.Y., University of Southern California, $68,673
Park came onto the scene in mid-June after finishing her junior season at USC. She finished T19 at her first professional event (Four Winds Invitational). One month later, she won her first professional event at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic, holding off a late surge by Vicky Hurst. Two weeks later, Park proved that her first win was far from a fluke as she captured the PHC Classic in a playoff over Lee Lopez. In early September, Park won the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic. Park is the only player in the top 10 that played in fewer than 15 events.
• Park is the first player to win Symetra Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year since Mina Harigae in 2009. Since 1999, the other players to win both in the same year are Vicky Hurst (2008), Song-Hee Kim (2006), Lorena Ochoa (2002), Beth Bauer (2001) and Grace Park (1999).
• Park is the 11th player to win at least three times in a single-season in Symetra Tour history
• Park finished in the top 20 in nine of 11 events
Park: “It means a lot to earn my card. It has been a lifelong dream to play on Tour and to finally get status is unbelievable. I still can’t believe that I got my card, but I’m going to have to believe it next year.”
2. Giulia Molinaro, 25 – Treviso, Italy, Arizona State University, 68,673
Molinaro graduated from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA in 2013. After struggling on the LPGA in 2014, she decided to return to the Symetra Tour to try to earn full exempt status again. Molinaro flourished right away with a third-place finish at the Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. She had a tie for second and a tie for sixth at the third and fourth events of the year and went onto record nine total top-10 finishes. She finished third on Tour in scoring average and had a stretch with five straight top-5 finishes between mid-June and mid-July. Molinaro has made 23 career LPGA Tour starts.
• Spent the first 16 years of her life in Kenya
• 2012 Pac-12 Golfer of the Year
• Won a 2016 Kia K900 at the LPGA Founders Cup earlier this season
Molinaro: “It’s a honor to be back on the LPGA and having the opportunity to be back with the best in the world. The Symetra Tour has given me the perfect platform to improve and grow in my golf game.”
3. Brianna Do, 25 – Lakewood, Calif., UCLA, $64,877Do saved her best for last closing the season with a solo second at the Symetra Tour Championship after a runner-up showing at the penultimate IOA Golf Classic. Do also added four more top-10s on her season including a runner-up showing at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial.
• Ranked eighth on Tour in sub-par holes
• Won the 2011 Women’s Amateur Pub Links
• Finished in the top-9 in each of her first four events and in the top-2 in the final two
Do: “I’m overwhelmed with all kinds of different emotions. I’m excited. I’m relieved. It’s just a crazy moment right now and I’m trying to soak it in.”
4. Daniela Iacobelli, 27 – Melbourne, Fla., Florida Institute of Technology, $62,692The turning point of Iacobelli’s season was when she won the inaugural Tullymore Classic in early July. In her next two starts she finished T14 and T7. In mid-August, Iacobelli finished fourth to put her firmly in the top 10. After strumbling with two missed cuts in the Midwest that put her LPGA hopes in jeopardy, Iacobelli closed with a T3 finish in Arkansas, a T6 finish in Longwood and a T14 finish in Daytona to easily earn her Tour card for 2016. This is the second time Iaocbelli has earned her card through the Symetra Tour. She won the 2012 Daytona Beach Invitational to move from 22nd to fifth. Iacobelli made 15 starts on the LPGA Tour in 2013 with her best finish coming at the RR Donnelley Founds Cup, a tie for 29th.
• Iacobelli finished fourth on Tour in driving distance and fourth in total birdies
• She has 15 career top 10 finishes on the Symetra Tour
• She is a member of the Florida Institute of Technology Hall of Fame
Iacobelli: “It’s a good feeling to finish what I set out to do in the beginning of the year. That was my main goal starting the year back out in Arizona. That seems like years ago really but it’s a good feeling to know that all of the hard work came through this year.”
5. Dani Holmqvist, 27 – Stockholm, Sweden, University of California-Berkeley, $62,160
Holmqvist began her march towards the top-10 with a victory at the Island Resort Championship and entered the Midwest Swing at No. 17 on the money list. She then caught fire by finishing second at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge to move to fifth and then finished in a tie for sixth at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic and a tie for fourth at the Garden City Charity Classic before a T8 at the IOA Golf Classic all but locked up her spot in the final top-10.
• Played on the LPGA with conditional status in 2014
• Received national headlines in 2013 when she used a golf tee to remove potentially fatal venom from a spider bite during a competitive round in Australia
• Has 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Mats Sundin, a fellow Stockholm native, as a mentor who helps her with mental toughness
Holmqvist: “It means a lot. I played some events last year on conditional status but it felt like it wasn’t for real. This time I’m really excited.”
6. Lee Lopez, 25 – Whittier, Calif., UCLA, $61,731
Lopez was one of the most consistent players on Tour. Although she did not win an event, she posted nine top-10 finishes and 13 top-20’s. Lopez started the year on fire. She finished in the top five in four of the first five events and never looked back. She nearly won the Volvik Championship (lost in playoff) and the PHC Classic (lost in playoff). Lopez qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and made the cut. She also made an ace in the third round that was the top play on Sportscenter’s Top 10. Lopez ranked fifth on Tour in scoring average.
• Lopez is the sixth UCLA golfer to graduate from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA since 2010 – Ryann O’Toole (2010), Mo Martin (2011), Tiffany Joh (2011), Sydnee Michaels (2011) and Brianna Do (2015)
• Lopez played in every single event in her two years on Tour and made the cut in 40 of 42 starts
• Lopez had five career second place finishes on the Symetra Tour including four this year
Lopez: “The ultimate goal was to get my card, a lot of people asked me if it bothered me not to win, but there are a lot of girls that won that won’t get a card. My goal was to keep getting better and stronger and let the results take care of themselves and I think they did. I don’t think it’s sunk in just yet but it’s definitely a dream come true. I remember watching Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam compete at the Kraft Nabisco when I was 14 years old and to know that I’ll get a shot to do what they were able to do for so many years is exciting. I can’t wait.”
7. Alejandra Llaneza, 27 – Mexico City, Mexico, University of Arizona, $61,289
Llaneza earned a victory in the sixth event of the year, the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, to climb into the top 10 and didn’t look back en route to earning her 2016 LPGA Tour card. The Arizona grad was one of the most consistent players on Tour as she made 17 of 19 cuts adding five additional top-10 finishes including a T8 at the Symetra Tour Championship.
• Played on the LPGA Tour in 2013-14
• Became the third player from Mexico to win on the Symetra Tour with her win in Greenwood
• Five-time Junior National Champion in Mexico
• Member of the Mexican National Team
Llaneza: “It means a lot. I’m really excited and I can’t wait for what this new opportunity is going to bring. I’m really excited.”
8. Vicky Hurst, 25 – Melbourne, Fla., $57,814Hurst had a slow start to the 2015 Symetra Tour season before exploding in mid-July. Hurst’s run started with a runner-up showing at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic and marked a seven-event stretch where she didn’t finish outside of the top 14. The strong stretch of play was highlighted by a pair of victories at the W.B. Mason Championship and the Garden City Charity Classic. The wins were the fifth and sixth of her career on the Symetra Tour.
• Played on the LPGA Tour from 2009-15 before a wrist injury
• Was a member of the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup Team in Ireland
• Won four times on the Symetra Tour as a 17-year-old after turning pro and topped the tour’s money list in 2008
Hurst: “It feels really great to be back on Tour. I worked really hard through the injury and the ups-and-downs of golf. It’s a relief to be back on Tour. I’ve got my game back and I’m looking forward to keep improving for next year.”
9. Casey Grice, 24 – College Station, Texas, University of North Carolina, $55,621Grice posted nine top-10 finishes throughout the season including four during the Midwest Swing towards the end of the season. Her best was a solo second at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. In just her second season, Grice led the Tour in total birdies and total eagles. Grice earned conditional LPGA Tour status at LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2014 when she finished T21.
• Grice won the 2014 ANNIKA Academy Elite Athlete Award and the 2015 Heather Wilbur Spirit Award
• Grice was selected Honorable Mention All-American in 2012 at UNC
• As of now, Grice will be the only Tar Heels golfer on the LPGA in 2016
Grice: “It’s huge. It’s a dream come true. Since I started playing golf the LPGA is what I’ve been shooting for and so to now know I have my card secured for 2016 there’s really no words right now.”‘
10. Rachel Rohanna, 24 – Waynesburg, Penn., Ohio State University, $53,867Rohanna captured the first victory of her career at the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay to ignite her run towards her 2016 LPGA Tour Card. The Pennsylvania native added five additional top-10 finishes including a third at the Symetra Classic and a T4 at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. She finished $284 in front of Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu.
• Purchased a cow with her winnings at the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay and named it “Sara Bay”
• Second on the Tour in driving distance
• 2010 U.S. Women’s Am medalist
• Had her dad caddying for her at the Symetra Tour Championship when she locked up her card
• Grandfather is her swing coach
Rohanna: “I’m really happy with how I played this year but I know there’s a lot that I have to work on for next year and I’m just looking forward to competing at the highest level.”
–Courtesy of Bret Lasky, Symetra Tour