Stanford's Valenzuela becomes latest college standout to turn pro

Brentley Romine

Women's college golf saw the departure of another one of its stars on Tuesday night.

Stanford senior Albane Valenzuela announced via Instagram that she plans to leave the Cardinal program midseason and turn pro, foregoing her final semester of college in order to assume her spot on the LPGA next year.

"My decision to leave the Stanford golf team has been one the most difficult I have had to make in my career," Valenzuela wrote. "Stanford has been the greatest gift I have ever received as it has taught me lessons that go beyond the classroom and pitch. ... The decision to pursue professional golf is not abandoning what I was fortunate enough to experience at Stanford University. Instead, it is precisely what I have learned at Stanford in the past three years that have convinced me to embrace this moment."

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“I am excited to announce my decision to turn professional and accept my LPGA status for the 2020 season. As a result of the opportunities that were given to me through my Q-Series and the possibility of returning to the Olympics, I am thrilled to start a new chapter in my life and pursue my longtime aspiration of playing on tour. My decision to leave the Stanford golf team has been one the most difficult I have had to make in my career. Stanford has been the greatest gift I have ever received as it has taught me lessons that go beyond the classroom and pitch. I have learned new definitions of what teamwork, friendship, and dedication look like based on my experience as a part of this program; invaluable lessons that have prepared me to take on this next step in my journey. The decision to pursue professional golf is not abandoning what I was fortunate enough to experience at Stanford University. Instead, it is precisely what I have learned at Stanford in the past three years that have convinced me to embrace this moment. It was at Stanford where I was taught and inspired by pacesetting intellectuals and world-changing entrepreneurs to have the courage to direct my life with dedication and passion. I have been an aspiring student-athlete stepping in the footprints of giants that have contributed to Stanford’s legacy; it is finally my moment to carve my own path. I am eternally thankful for my teammates, my coach, Anne Walker, my assistant coaches Lauren Dobashi and Maddie Sheils and all of the people that have made my Stanford experience so unique. I could have never asked for a better place to pursue my academic and athletic endeavors and will continue to proudly represent our colors for the rest of my career. I will always be a lifelong Stanford Cardinal and a proud member of the Stanford women’s golf team. I will miss being part of this team that I call family but will always be there to support them and hope to remain a positive influence for our program. And today, I am thrilled to embark on the new journey in life that is professional golf.” #lpga #stanfordgolf #swissgolf

A post shared by Albane Valenzuela (@albane.valenzuela) on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:11pm PST

The 21-year-old Valenzuela tied for sixth at Q-Series earlier this month, earning her LPGA card along with teammate Andrea Lee, who finished in a share of 30th. Lee, also a senior, has yet to make her decision as to whether she will return to school or join Valenzuela on the LPGA in 2020.

Valenzuela, currently the No. 2-ranked amateur in the world, had a decorated career while at Stanford. She was a first-team All-American as a junior and this past summer advanced to the final of the U.S. Women's Amateur. She was recently low amateur at the Evian Championship and represented Switzerland in the 2016 Olympics, something she hopes to do again next summer in Tokyo.

"It was at Stanford where I was taught and inspired by pacesetting intellectuals and world-changing entrepreneurs to have the courage to direct my life with dedication and passion," Valenzuela said. "I have been an aspiring student-athlete stepping in the footprints of giants that have contributed to Stanford’s legacy; it is finally my moment to carve my own path."

With Valenzuela's departure and the possibility that Lee also could leave, Stanford isn't left empty-handed. Freshman Angelina Ye is currently the top-ranked player in the Golfstat women's individual rankings and sophomore Aline Krauter posted two top-10s in three starts this fall.

Romine: Stanford's loss of Valenzuela leaves 'massive void'

The Cardinal weren't the only program hit hard by Q-Series this time around. Unlike last year when Wake Forest's Jennifer Kupcho and Arkansas' Maria Fassi each opted to defer their LPGA status until the summer, not one of the five players who made final stage of Q-Series has followed that path.

Florida senior Sierra Brooks, Florida State sophomore Frida Kinhult and USC sophomore Jennifer Chang have all announced their plans to turn pro.

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