LPGA: She’s in, but which of her Symetra Tour competitors will win LPGA Tour cards on Sunday?

Image of Giulia Molinaro

Giulia Molinaro during the second round of the W.B. Mason Championship in Brockton, Mass., Aug. 15, 2015. She won’t be playing this week, but at No. 1 on the Symetra Tour, she’s already got her LPGA Tour card. (Photo by Matthew Brown / Symetra Tour)

THE SYMETRA TOUR, Road to the LPGA, ends at Daytona Beach this weekend with the final event of this historic 2015 season.

With nine months of competition and 22 events in the books, 10 players will earn coveted LPGA Tour cards after the final round of play on Sunday in the Symetra Tour Championship, presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at LPGA International, Jones Course.

The top 108 up-and-coming professionals from the United States and 17 countries around the globe will compete one final time for a $150,000 total tournament purse. The winner will earn $22,500 and could jump into the top 10 depending on her current standing on the money list.

First-round play begins on Thursday, Oct. 15, and there will be a cut made to the top 70 and ties following second round play on Friday. This is the fifth 72-hole event of the season, which is up from just two a year ago.

The Jones course is a par-72 and will play 6,443 yards for the championship.

The top 23 players are still eligible to earn a Tour card. Number 23 on the money list, Dottie Ardina, has earned $30,129 this year. The first-place check of $22,500 would increase her earnings to $52,629, which is just in front of current No. 10 Rachel Rohanna’s total of $52,314. Nobody outside the top 23 can mathematically earn a card.

The Volvik Race for the Card money list is tighter than it has ever been. The margin for error is so small this week that No. 11, Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu, could move into the top 10 with a 47th place finish. Further, No. 3 Lee Lopez is just $9,401 in front of Morita-WanyaoLu. For comparison, the gap between No. 3 and No. 11 heading into the Symetra Tour Championship last year was $18,694.

The race to watch is between No. 11 Morita-WanyaoLu ($51,594), No. 12 Brianna Do ($51,037) and No. 13 Lindy Duncan ($50,315). Morita-WanyaoLu won the Symetra Classic and has five top 10s, Do just finished solo second at the IOA Golf Classic on Sunday to post a sixth top 10 and Duncan has seven top 10s.

Nine of the top 10 on the money list are in the field. The only player not in the field is No. 1 Giulia Molinaro, who has already locked up a Tour card. Molinaro has a prior commitment, but is expected to be at the card ceremony on Sunday. The field also includes 21 LPGA Tour members.

There always seems to be drama on Sunday of the Symetra Tour Championship. Every year since 2007, a player outside the top 10 has jumped into the top 10 with a strong finish at the season finale. It is also interesting to note that only one player each of the last seven years has gone from outside the top 10 to inside at the finale. The 2006 season was the last time nobody from outside the top 10 earned a card at the final tournament. The last year that multiple players moved into the top 10 after the last event was 2004 when Kris Tamulis and Malinda Johnson went from 16th to ninth and 11th to fifth respectively.

Since 1999, six players that won the final event went on to earn a card – Candy Hannemann (’03), Malinda Johnson (’04), Vicky Hurst (’08), Cindy LaCrosse (’10), Sydnee Michaels (’11) and Daniela Iacobelli (’12).

WHO’S GUARANTEED TO RECEIVE AN LPGA CARD

The 2015 Symetra Tour Championship will be as wide open as the Tour has experienced. No. 1 Giulia Molinaro and No. 2 Annie Park are the only two players mathematically guaranteed to earn a Tour card come Sunday. Therefore, there are 21 players (excluding Molinaro and Park) vying for eight spots.

Although No. 3 Lee Lopez (Whittier, Calif.) is not mathematically guaranteed a spot, a wild scenario would have to unfold. A clearer picture will present itself after the cut on Friday.

In 2014, the top six players were safe heading into the Symetra Tour Championship. However, in 2013 only two players were safe heading into the Tour championship.

SYMETRA TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR STILL WIDE OPEN

The Symetra Tour Player of the Year goes to the player who earns the most money at seasons end. Because No. 1 Molinaro is not in the field, the door is open for anyone in the top 14 to overtake her with a win. No. 2 Annie Park needs to finish 18th to pass Molinaro. No. 3 Lee Lopez needs a third place finish or better to potentially pass Molinaro.

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