Huffer, Lee Are Co-Medalists in Weather-Plagued Stage II of LPGA Q-School; Kim Advances, Smith Misses

November 21, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle

VENICE, Fla. -- Weather became a problem for Stage II of LPGA Q-School three weeks before the tournament started -- or was scheduled to start. Hurricane Ian hit Venice on Sept. 27, and rendered the Bobcat and Panther courses at Plantation Golf and Country Club unplayable. At least for a while. 

It was too late to find another venue for a tournament the size of this one. So Stage II, which was supposed to be played Oct. 18-21, was postponed until Nov. 17-20 to give the Plantation G&CC grounds crew time to make the necessary repairs at the two courses.

(Stage I, which was played on three courses in California in August, had a field of 310. There were 177 players in the field for Stage II.)

As it turned out, weather was a problem for the tournament right to the end. Rain, wind and cold temperatures made scoring very difficult during Sunday's final round, and play had to be halted as the leaders were coming down the stretch. In the end, Becca Huffer and Seulki Lee moved up all the way from a tie for 11th into a tie for first by shooting a pair of 1-under-par 71s on Bobcat.

They finished 72 holes with 284 totals (4 under). 

Lee, a South Korean, spent most of 2022 playing on the Korean LPGA Tour, where she made three of seven cuts, and the Korean Devlopmental Tour, where she had six top-10 finishes. Like Huffer, she opened Stage II with a 3-under 69 on Thursday. Lee shot her 69 at Bobcat. Huffer had hers at Panther.

There were only two players who did better than their 71s on Sunday. Anais Meyssonnier and Valery Plata both managed to post 69s. That lifted Mayssonnier from a tie for 22nd into solo third place. 

The top 45 and ties will advance to the final stage, called the Q-Series. It will consist of 144 holes played over two weeks in December in Alabama (in Mobile the first week and in Dothan the second), and the top 45 finishers from there -- plus ties -- will gain LPGA Tour cards for 2023. 

Plata wasn't even in the top 45 when she started her round at Bobcat on Sunday. She was tied for 59th. But the 69 moved her all the way up to a tie for 11th, at 289. That gave her five strokes to spare, because it took an aggregate of 294 to advance. There were seven players who made it on the number, tying for 44th place at plus 6. 

Lee parred the first three holes in her final round at Bobcat -- and then eagled the par-5 fourth, which she said "made my game more easygoing" for the rest of the round. She added another birdie on the front nine and made seven pars and two bogeys on the back nine on her way to 71.

Huffer, who was the MVP for the Notre Dame golf team twice (2010 and '12), has spent most of the last decade on the Epson Tour (the LPGA's equivalent of the PGA Tour's Korn Ferry), but made it to the LPGA Tour for one year. She got there by finishing 10th in the inaugural LPGA Q-Series in 2018, but she managed to make only one cut in 15 LPGA Tour events in 2019.

On Sunday, she birdied the par-5 fourth, and on the back nine, she offset two bogeys (the 11th and the par-5 13th) with birdies at the 14th and the par-5 16th.

"I love accomplishing my goal," she said afterward. "And I'm especially glad that on a day like today, when the back nine was just rain and wind and nastiness, I put myself in a position to not have to worry too much about it. That was great, and I'm very excited to play in the Q-Series.

The two players who started Sunday in a tie for first -- Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and Karen Chung -- both closed with 78s and dropped back into a tie for 11th at 287. 

It was another measure of how tough conditions were during the final round that Kim Kaufman shot 76 and lost only four places, slipping from a tie for 14th into a tie for 18th at 290. The former four-time South Dakota state high school champion from Clark -- and All-American at Texas Tech -- pretty much secured her spot in the Q Series on Saturday, when she birdied five of the last 10 holes at Panther and finished with a 69. 

She had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine at Bobcat on Sunday. So she was in a position to survive a bogey at the 13th, a double at the 14th and a valedictory bogey at the 18th.

Kate Smith, the former five-time Minnesota state high school champion from Detroit Lakes -- she also won the Big Ten Conference individual championship in 2020, her senior year at Nebraska -- had no such margin for error. The 2020 MGA co-Women's Player of the Year (along with Taylor Ledwein) began her final round at 4 over (220), one stroke out of the top 45. But she started off double bogey-double bogey-double bogey on the 10th, 11th and 12 holes at Bobcat, and never recovered.

She ended up shooting 83, which put her in a tie for 110th place at 303. 

Everyone who made it to Stage II will have at least limited status on the Epson Tour next year. Both Kaufman and Smith were on the Epson Tour this year, which is why they were exempt through Stage I and into Stage II. Kaufman ended up No. 56 on the Epson money list with $26,810 in 21 events. Smith was No. 78 with $17,770, also in 21 events. 


Stage II 

Nov. 17-20

At Plantation Golf and Country Club

Bobcat and Panther courses (both par 72)

Venice, Fla. 

Final results (The top 45 finishers and ties advance to the 144-hole final stage, which is called the Q-Series. It will be played over two weeks -- Dec. 1-4 at Magnolia Grove (Crossings and Falls courses in Mobile, Ala.) and Dec. 8-11 at Highland Oaks (Highlands and Marshwood courses in Dothan, Ala.). Players finishing those eight rounds  in the top 45, plus ties, will receive LPGA status for the 2023 season. All players finishing outside the top 20 and ties will receive Epson Tour status. All player who made it to Stage II will have limited status on the Epson Tour for 2023.)

T1. Becca Huffer                  69-74-70-71--284 (-4)

T1. Seulki Lee                      69-70-74-71--284

3. Anais Meyssonnier          72-71-73-69--285

T4. Auston Kim                    73-73-78-72--286

T4. Chanettee Wannasaen  73-71-67-75--286

T4. Aline Krauter                   72-68-71-75--285

T18. Kim Kaufman               72-73-69-76--290

What it took -- 294 (7-way tie for 44th) 

T110. Kate Smith                  74-73-73-83--303

Stage I

Aug. 18-21

At Mission Hills Country Club

Dinah Shore and Arnold Palmer courses

Rancho Mirage, Calif. 

& Shadow Ridge

Palm Desert, Calif. 

Final results (The top 100 finishers plus ties advanced to Stage II)

1. Alessandra Fanali (A)                  69-67-69-69--274 (-14)

T2. Natthaklritta Vongtaveelap (A)   67-72-69-67--275

T2. Valery Plata (A)                          72-69-66-68--275

What it took -- 290 (9-way tie for 98th)

54-hole cut -- 218 (+2)

T196. Taylor Ledwein                       77-74-72--223

T206. Betsy Kelly                              76-75-73--224



Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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