Ryu Takes Medalist Honors in LPGA Q-Series; Tardy Says Goodbye to Epson Tour

December 13, 2022 | 12 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle

DOTHAN, Ala. -- Hae Ran Ryu is about to be a rookie, once again. 

It wasn't quite three years ago when she had that same status on the Korean LPGA Tour, in 2020. That worked out pretty well. She earned Rookie of the Year honors, and in the three seasons that she's played on the KLPGA, she's won five times. In 2022, she won once, led the tour in top-10 finishes with 17, ended up second in Player Points, second in scoring average and was fourth on the money list with just under 830 million won ($636,370).

But now the 21-year-old moving on to the LPGA Tour, after claiming medalist honors in the Final Stage of the Q-Series on Sunday. 

The Q-Series is a marathon, a 144-hole tournament played over two weeks, beginning with a field of 100. There was a cut after 72 holes were completed during the first week (Dec. 1-4) in Mobile, Ala., at Magnolia Grove on the Falls and Crossings courses, and the 75 players who survived it played the final 72 holes last week in Dothan at Highland Oaks.

Ryu didn't get off to a great start in Mobile. She was 3 over par after 12 holes at Crossings, but she birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th holes, before giving one back at the 18th. After that opening 1-over-par 73, she rallied with a pair of 4-under 68s at Falls, and when came back to Crossings, she made seven birdies and no bogeys in a 65, which bumped her up 19 places into a tie for sixth going into the second week.

In that first round the first week, Ryu made four bogeys in her first 12 holes. She made only four bogeys for the entire 72 holes during the second week, which she started with a two-birdie no-bogey 70 at Highland Oaks. On Day 2 of Week 2, she made an eagle 2 at hole No. 2, and she birdied the par-4 fifth, par-3 sixth and par-5 seventh. From there, she added two birdies -- and made her first two bogeys of the week -- on the way to a 67.

She was bogey free once again in the penultimate round, and she made five birdies on the front nine, plus one more on the back for a 66, which put her in first place, and she closed the deal by making another six birdies in Round 8 of the Q-Series ordeal, which more than compensated for the two bogeys she made. The resulting 68 got her to 29 under par at 545.

That was good for a two-stroke victory, an LPGA Tour Card -- and $15,000 for being the medalist. 

The top 20 finishers and ties (20 in all, because there was a four-way tie for 17th at 557) will be fully exempt for the LPGA Tour in 2023. Those finishing 21st through 45th (there was a two-way tie for 45th at 563) will be partially exempt for the LPGA Tour and fully exempt for the Epson Tour (the LPGA's G League). Anyone who wound up below that will have Epson status.

Bailey Tardy, at age 26, was the grizzled veteran of the players who were contending for first place on Sunday, and she came close, thanks to a 65. That was the low round on the final day, and it lifted her into second place at 547. And with that, she earned her LPGA Tour Card -- finally.
A former SEC Freshman of the Year (2016) at the University of Georgia, she turned professional in 2018 and was expected to become an LPGA star. But getting to the LPGA turned out to be a much longer -- and far more frustrating -- process than it was supposed to be, and Tardy really didn't want to be back at Q-School again this year. She'd been there before -- too many times. She kept winding up on the Epson Tour (the LPGA's G League), and in three years out there she made $200,599. Not bad, but she never finished in the top 10 on the Epson money list, which would have earned her a promotion to the LPGA Tour.

This year, she missed the cut in the first three Epson events, but had a great run at the end of the schedule. She finished third, fourth and second in the last three tournaments of the year, but wound up 11th on the money list, with $76,846 -- $1,765 short of what she needed to make the top 10. 

That meant another trip to Q-School.

"I didn't want to come to Q-School at all," she admitted when it was over. "Even at the beginning of the year, I told everyone: "I'm not got to Q-School. I'm not going it. That's not what I want to do. But I'm so happy I did. I'm ecstatic. Just a lot of hard work paid off in the last two weeks. I don't know; it's kind of surreal right now. I think it'll hit me a little later. But I can finally say I'm an LPGA member."

At least Tardy was exempt into the Q-Series. The two players who tied for third, at 549 -- Valery Plata and Aline Krauter -- both had to go through all three stages of Q-School, beginning in August. Plata, a former Big Ten Women's Golfer of the Year at Michgan State, tied for second in a field of 311 players in the First Stage, with a 275 (13 under) at the Dinah Shore and Arnold Palmer courses in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert.

Krauter, a two-time All-American from Germany who was part of Stanford's NCAA championship team this spring, tied for seventh in the First Stage with a 278. She then tied for fourth in Stage 2 with a 286 (2 under) on the Bobcat and Panther courses at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla. Plata, a 21-year-old from Colombia, tied for 11th with a 289.

The lowest score in the eight rounds of the Q-Series was shot by Krauter, who will turn 23 on Dec. 30 (she shares that birth date with Sandy Koufax, Labron James and Tiger Woods). She had a 62 at Highland Oaks in Round 5, five birdies and no bogeys in a front-nine 31, and the same on the back nine for another 31.  

She wasn't in the top 20 before that, but she was in the top 10 for the rest of the tournament. In the final round, she bogeyed the second hole, but moved up into the top 5 on the leaderboard with consecutive birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes, and signed for a 70. 

Amateurs were allowed to play in Q-School, but if they made the Q-Series, they had to turn pro before it started, which Plata did in November. She might have wondered about that decision after she went double bogey, par, bogey on the first three holes of Round 1 at the Falls course. She made another four bogeys that day, but also had five birdies in her last 12 holes in a 73. 

She didn't make another bogey -- or double -- in the last three rounds of the first week, while shooting 66, 67 and 69. In the first three rounds of Week 2, she had one double and one bogey and followed a 67 with two 69s. In the last round, she made five birdies in the first 11 holes; so she didn't have to worry too much when she made three bogeys in a row at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.

A birdie at the 16th got her back to even par on the back nine, and she concluded the tournament with her third 69 in a row.  

It wasn't such a great couple of weeks for Kim Kaufman, 31, the former six-time South Dakota Junior champion -- and four-time South Dakota state high school champ  -- from Clark. She's made more than $1 million on the LPGA Tour, but she lost her status in 2021 and played on the Epson Tour in '22, making $26,810 in 21 events and  finishing the season at No. 56 on the money list. So it was back to Q-School.

She was exempt into the Q-Series, and got off to a promising start, bogeying the first hole at Falls, but then birdying the second, and she made a hole in one at the sixth, on the way to a front-nine 33. She followed that with a 38 on the back nine, however, for a 71, and she had 39 on the back nine at Crossings in a 72 the next day. But the former Texas Tech star -- she was the No. 1-ranked college player in the country at one time  -- bounced back the next day with a bogey-free 68 at Crossings.  

After a 70 at Falls, Kaufman concluded the first week tied for 47th at 281 (71-72-68-70), and was only one shot out of the top 45. But she was done in by a pair of 74s in the first two rounds at Highland Oaks, and she never did get into the 70s there. She had a 70 on Saturday (Round 7), but reverted to 74 on Sunday, which relegated her to a tie for 71st at 573, 10 shots out of 45th.  


Q-Series (Final Stage)

The Q-Series was a 144-hole tournament, played over two weeks. The first four rounds were played Dec. 1-4 in Mobile, Ala., at the Magnolia Grove complex, on the Falls (par 71) and Crossings (par 72) courses. There was a cut, which came at 284. The top 70 players and ties -- 75 players in all -- advanced to the final four rounds, which were played last week (Dec. 8-11) in Dothan, Ala., on the Robert Jones Trail course Highland Oaks (par 72). The top 20 finishers will be fully exempt for the 2023 LPGA Tour. Anyone not in the top 20 but in the top 45 will be partially exempt, and every player who finished outside of the top 20 and finished 144 holes will be fully exempt for the Epson Tour (formerly the Symetra Tour), basically, the top minor league in women's golf and the equivalent of the men's Korn Ferry Tour.

Final results 

1. Hae Ran Ryu                $15,000                73-68-68-65-70-67-66-68--545 (-29)

2. Bailey Tardy                   $11,500               72-67-69-69-68-70-67-65--547

T3. Valery Plata                   $8,250               73-66-67-69-67-69-69-60--549

T3. Aline Krauter                 $8,250                70-69-72-69-62-69-68-70--549

5. Minami Katsu                  $6,000                72-70-66-68-72-67-69-66--550

T6. Samantha Wagner        $5,250                69-67-70-68-71-72-68-66--551

T6. Chanettee Wannasaen  $5,250               70-72-69-65-66-71-70-68--551

8. Linnea Johansson            $4,500               71-71-72-67-70-66-67-69--553

T9. Lauren Hartlage              $4,000               66-69-69-68-69-72-68-73--554

T9. Kum-Kang Park               $4,000              72-69-72-64-67-69-68-73--554

T9. Isa Gabsa                        $4,000              72-72-66-66-67-64-72-75--554

What it took to make top 20 -- 557 (4-way tie for 17th)

What it took to make top 45 -- 563 (2-way tie for 45th) 

T71. Kim Kaufman                        71-72-68-70-74-74-70-74--573


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 advanced to the 144-hole final stage, which is called the Q-Series. It is being 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. The top 20 -- plus ties -- will be fully exempt. Those outside the top 20 but inside the top 45 will be partially exempt. 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, mngolf.org, 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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