He Is LPGA Q-School Medalist; Burnham Regains Card with T20
November 4, 2019
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Muni He made it through LPGA Q-School a year ago, but her first year on the women's tour was something less than a dazzling success. She played in 19 tournaments but never had a top-25 finish and made only $33,315. The 2019 LPGA season isn't actually over yet, but for He, who is No. 141 on the money list, it ended a few weeks ago.
If you don't make the top 100 on the money list, you have to go back to Q-School. So that was where He spent the last two weeks, playing in the LPGA Q-Series (Final Stage) -- and she made the most of it.
Playing Pinehurst No. 6 (par 71) for the first four rounds and Pinehurst No. 9 (par 72) for the last four -- over a span of 11 days -- she was the only player in a field of 98 to break par in all eight rounds. Q-School is a grueling test, physically and psychologically, but He passed with flying colors, posting a total of 21-under-par 551 for the 144 holes to claim medalist honors by three strokes over Hee Young Park. Yealimi Noh was third, another three back at 557, and no one else finished within 10 shots of He.
The 18-year-old who was born in China but grew up in San Diego took control of the tournament by shooting a 7-under 65 at Pinehurst No. 9 in the fifth round. She cruised from there with a 70, 71 and 70.
He, who was home-schooled, entered USC one semester early, when she was only 17. She earned her first -- and only -- college victory at Prestwick GC in the Minnesota Invitational in September of 2018. Not long after that, she quit school and turned professional.
Playing on the Symetra Tour -- the LPGA equivalent of the Korn Ferry (formerly the Web.com) -- in 2018, she finished No. 24 on the money list, before making it through Q-School in the fall.
Another 2018 Q-School graduate who was back there again this year was Sarah Burnham, the former Minnesota state high school champion from Wayzata -- and two-time MGA Women's Player of the Year. And she, too, reclaimed her playing privileges for the 2020 LPGA season.
The final round didn't go exactly the way Burnham would have liked. She bogeyed three of the first four holes, but followed that with three consecutive birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. The 23-year-old former Michigan State star -- she was named the Big Ten Player of the Year twice -- made 10 pars in a row but concluded the round with a double bogey at the 18th, for a 74. She wound up at 572, 21 shots behind He -- but only two out of 11th place.
Burnham tied for 29th at Q-School last year and was comfortably under the number she needed to earn her LPGA Tour Card (the top 45 and ties make it). Unfortunately, the women's tour starts the year in Asia, and Burnham didn't get into her first event until two months into the season, in the middle of April. She missed the cut in her first five tournaments, and eight of her first 10. But she made the cut in each of the last five tournaments she played, and had one top 10, a tie for ninth at the Cambia Classic in Portland.
After that slow start, she worked her way up the money list and ended up at No. 122 with $66,713 (almost exactly twice as much as He made) in 15 events.
Among those who didn't make it was Casey Danielson, the former four-time Wisconsin state high school champ from Osceola. She was done in by a disastrous 81 in the seventh round (she started bogey-double-bogey and shot 44 on the front nine). Danielson closed with a 72 but tied for 62nd place with a 584, and missed by seven strokes.
Q-School Series (Final Stage)
First 4 rounds Oct. 23-26 at Pinehurst No. 6 (par 71)
Last 4 rounds Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at Pinehurst No. 9 (par 72)
Final results (the top 45 finishers and ties earn status for the 2020 LPGA season)
1. Muni He 69-70-67-69-65-70-71-70--551
2. Hee Young Park 68-70-71-70-67-66-72-70--554
3. Yealimi Noh 69-69-66-77-67-69-71-69--557
4. Haeji Kang 71-72-73-69-70-65-70-72--562
5. Lindsey Weaver 68-68-72-70-71-70-73-71--563
T6. Emma Talley 68-71-66-72-76-71-72-69--565
T6. Albane Valenzuela (A) 71-73-69-70-69-69-71-73--565
8. Lauren Kim 68-66-72-72-74-71-71-72--566
T20. Sarah Burnham 69-75-69-70-70-70-75-74--572
What it took: 577 (5-way tie for 41st)
T62. Casey Danielson 72-70-73-70-74-72-81-72--584