World No. 19 Jeong Eun Lee proved to be too strong at Pinehurst as the Korean claimed a one-stroke victory over amateur Jennifer Kupcho at Q-Series.
The marathon 144-hole event reached its conclusion oat the weekend as 48 players secured LPGA membership for the 2019 season.
Having not done enough to automatically keep her card this season, Mel Reid again showed her fighting qualities, with the Solheim Cup star entering the tournament off the back of four straight missed cuts to finish in 5th place – comfortably enough to retain her playing privileges.
Quote from @melreidgolf on return to @LPGA Q-Series:
“When things go to a certain point & u feel like there’s nowhere further down u can go, that’s when you rise up. I’ve been there many times before. Uv just got to be brave enough to pick urself back up again&believe in urself”
— Cara Banks (@CaraBanksGC) November 4, 2018
Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (below) also gained a tour card, as did fellow Europeans Anne Van Dam, Klara Spilkova and Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Jenny Haglund, Louise Ridderstrom, Sophia Popov, Giulia Molinaro and Louise Stahle.
Elsewhere, it proved to be a sensational week for the younger players. Eight amateurs finished in the top 45, including Kupcho, Kristen Gillman, Lauren Stephenson and Lilia Vu. The current US college players will have the option to defer their membership until after the college season.
But it was bad news for the likes of Amy Boulden, Cheyenne Woods and Emily Pedersen, who will all have to settle for Symetra Tour membership next season.
There was also a bit of controversy during the penultimate round. Doris Chen, the 2014 NCAA champion, was disqualified after she hit a ball that had been moved from out of bounds by an outside agency.
According to Golfweek, Chen’s mother retrieved the ball from out of bounds. Chen subsequently elected to play the ball and, because she didn’t correct her error prior to teeing off on the next hole, she was disqualified.
1. JE Lee (above)
2. J Kupcho (a)
3. S Schmelzel
4. K Spilkova
5. M Reid
6. J Lee (a)
7. J Steolting
T8. A-C Tanguay, L Stephenson
10. B Huffer
T11. NK Madsen, K Kaufman
T13. Y Chun, K Gillman (a)
T15. A Lee, T Chan, C Guce, A Van Dam, K Burnett
T20. J Haglund, A Uriell, M McCrary
T23. G Dryburgh, J Yan, X Lun, L Kim
T27. L Vu (a), S Burnham, M He, C Knight, K McPherson
32. M Fassi (a)
T33. D Carter, L Beck, LB Adams
T36. S Yamaguchi (a), L Ridderstrom, S Popov
T39. L Lopez, S Changkija, G Molinaro, L Coughlin, P Anannarukarn, S Kono
T45. K Chung, PK Kongkraphan, R Choi (a), L Stahle
Hataoko grabs second title
Nasa Hataoka pounced from four behind as she sealed her second LPGA title of the season at the Toto Japan Classic on Sunday at Seta Golf Club.
Minjee Lee held a three-stroke overnight lead in the 54-hole tournament, but the Australian went out in an uncharacteristic 43 to effectively take her out of the running.
Carlota Ciganda made a significant final-round charge but Hataoka, the classy 19-year-old, proved to be too strong as she ran out a two-stroke winner.
The young Japanese star joins Brooke Henderson, Georgia Hall, Annie Park, In Gee Chun and Marina Alex as players to have all won on home-soil this season.
“I set my goal to 15 under, I couldn’t reach that. But I saw the scoreboard and Minjee was dropping her score. So I told myself, just stay ahead of her,” Hataoka said.
“I had a win in US, I was in contention few times after, but I couldn’t win. I am happy that I won in front of Japanese fans. I wanted to show how I improved playing in US.”
Momoko Ueda and Saki Nagamine joined Ciganda in a tied for second place, while Jin Young Ko and Ji-Hee Lee finished tied for fifth.
England’s Charley Hull was seven strokes behind Hataoka in a tie for 15th.