Despite topping the field by four shots Friday at Stage II of LPGA Q-School, Ingrid Lindblad’s qualifying journey is over.
The LSU fifth-year senior won’t be teeing it up in the six-round Q-Series, which begins Nov. 30 in Mobile, Alabama, because she plans on finishing her last semester of eligibility with the Tigers. LPGA rules, changed last year, stipulate that players must turn pro in order to chase an LPGA card via Q-Series, and if players choose to remain amateur, they are afforded the opportunity to defer the Epson Tour status that they’ve earned by advancing through second stage.
“At the beginning of the year, I'm like I am probably just going to go through the whole Q-Series and like peace out,” Lindblad explained to reporters on Friday, “but I was talking to my coaches, and I really like it at LSU. Like our coaches are awesome. This year we have a really good team, so I just want to give it a chance to get another SEC and maybe a national championship.”
Lindblad, the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was among eight current college players who finished among the top 40 and ties at second stage, which was contested at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida. The others, in order of WAGR rank: Florida State’s Charlotte Heath (13), USC’s Amari Avery (14), Oklahoma State’s Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (35), Texas A&M’s Jennie Park (67), Oregon’s Briana Chacon (105), Colorado’s Savannah Iqbal (116), Clemson’s Savannah Grewal (124) and Tulsa’s Lilly Thomas (276).
Golf Channel has confirmed that at least five of those eight players will defer their Epson status and return to their respective schools. It’s unknown yet what the plans of Iqbal and Thomas, both grad students, are, though all amateurs have until Nov. 17 to decide whether to play Q-Series or not.
Grewal, however, is planning on turning pro for Q-Series and foregoing her final semester of college golf, Tigers coach Kelley Hester confirmed on Tuesday.
Avery is the only player of this bunch who is an underclassmen. The 18-year-old junior enrolled a semester early two springs ago. In her absence – and the absence of Christine Wang, who missed at second stage – this past week, the Trojans, the reigning national runners-up, won the Stanford Intercollegiate.
Last year, five collegians advanced to Q-Series with three – Michigan's Ashley Lau, Michigan State's Valery Plata and Miami's Nataliya Guseva – opting to turn pro and forego the rest of their college eligibility.
Plata is the only one of those three who earned LPGA status, and she's played 13 events this season and currently ranked No. 184 in the Race to the CME Globe. Guseva ended up No. 14 in Epson points this season while Lau was No. 56.