When she qualified for stage II of LPGA Qualifying School nearly two months ago, Kentucky women’s golf redshirt senior Ale Walker considered it the finest moment of her young career so far.
She’s hoping the accomplishment in August is just a footnote in a much longer story.
Walker’s goal of qualifying for the LPGA Tour moves forward this weekend in Venice, Florida, with stage II of LPGA Qualifying School. Walker will compete against 190 other hopefuls – made up largely of the most talented up-and-coming players in the sport – for a spot in the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School.
After trying for 48th place in stage I and easily qualifying for stage II in a record field of 362 players in August (the top 90 plus ties advanced from Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California), Walker will try take her journey a step further at the Plantation Golf and Country Club.
The 72-hole, four-round tournament begins Thursday with stroke-play competition. There is no cut, but only the top 80 players (plus ties) after Sunday’s final round will advance to the final stage, to be held Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida. Players who do not advance to the final stage will receive 2017 Symetra Tour status, depending on the completion of 72 holes.
The Symetra Tour is the official development tour of the LPGA.
Walker qualified for stage II with a sensational four-round showing in late August in Rancho Mirage. Walker posted a first-round 68 to move into the top 10, where she’d hover for most of the weekend. She followed the first-round 68 with a 2-under 70 in the second round, a 1-under 71 in the third and a 6-over 78 in the final round. Playing among mostly professionals, Walker posted the 13th-best finish among amateurs in the field.
When Walker tees off this week, she’ll be facing a field of seasoned veterans and future stars of the game – but few amateurs such as herself. Stage II competitors will include:
· Symetra Tour Members ranked 1-150, plus those tied for 150th place on the official 2017 Symetra Tour money list through the PHC Classic
· LPGA Tour Class A Members who have not competed in an official LPGA tournament during the 2015-17calendar years
· Professional players who, as of the conclusion of the PHC Classic, won an amount of money in official Symetra Tour events that is equal to or greater than the amount of official money won by the Symetra Tour member who was in 100th place on the official Symetra Tour Money List through the PHC Classic
· Players, not otherwise qualified for Stage III, who are ranked within the top 400 on the Rolex World Rankings as of the entry deadline. Players will be ranked in the order of their position on the list as of the entry deadline. If more than 30 players apply through this category – and the total number of entries for Stage II exceeds 100 players – remaining players may be moved to start the qualifying process at Stage I
· Top-five ranked players on the GolfWeek Women’s Individual Collegiate Rankings as of the entry deadline
· Top-five ranked players on the women’s 2017 World Amateur Golf Rankings as of the entry deadline
· Qualifiers from stage I
Walker is playing the best golf of her career heading into this week’s opportunity. In addition to her stellar four-round showing in August in stage I, she’s played well in Kentucky’s opening two tournaments of the season.
The Paintsville, Kentucky, opened her redshirt senior season with a 3-over-par 216 at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee. She was tied for first after round one of UK’s Bettie Lou Evans Invitational two weeks ago but had to withdraw after the second round because of injury.
Walker is cleared and healthy for this weekend.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.
GO CATS –
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