LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan has put the minds of Tour players like Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow at ease by outlining plans for this season and next.
Both Maguire and Meadow fought incredibly hard to win their playing rights to the Tour for 2020 with the former coming through the money-list battle on the Symetra Tour while Meadow’s fate came down to the final of her 2019 LPGA Tour season.
Given the astonishing impact Covid-19 has had on the world, not least golf where it has decimated playing schedules, there’s been widespread uncertainty as to how the Tour would determine playing status heading into the remainder of this season and beyond.
No, it seems that the LPGA Tour will essentially freeze players’ status in 2020, with that status carried into 2021, therefore ensuring that the hard work by so many players through 2019 hasn’t been in vain.
Meanwhile, the 2020 season will be considered official and those already in the winner’s circle will enjoy the fruits of those points next year but rookies like Cavan’s Maguire will remain rookies in 2021, despite the Tour intent on signing off on 2020 with its CME Group Tour Championship in December.
“We will have official wins, players can shuffle into a winner category, they can play their way into the (Diamond Resorts) Tournament of Champions in Orlando, but we feel players were not given the season that they earned in ’19 for ’20,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan.
“They might have some version of a ’20 season. But they don’t have a full season to perform under the categories they earned coming into the year. And not knowing exactly when we’ll play, what will happen with travel restrictions; knowing that there will still be changes, we really felt that the right thing to do was make sure that while COVID-19 is going to affect 2020 for everybody, it shouldn’t affect your career.
“And you shouldn’t find yourself back trying to play your way onto a Tour when you probably didn’t get a chance to play your way on or off a Tour in the first place. You’ll essentially have the same priority position in ’21 that you had walking into ’20.
“There are a couple of exceptions,” Whan added. “You could have winners who could shuffle ahead of you or you could be a winner and shuffle ahead. And you could have people coming back from medical (exemptions) who return and step in front of you. But, plus or minus a couple of points, you’re probably going to walk into (2021) with the same (status) that you had before.
“You can play ’20; you can win; you can come back from medicals, maternities, that kind of thing, but generally speaking, outside of wins, you’ll likely be starting 2021 with your 2020 starting place.”
The first and second stages of LPGA Q School, traditionally held in the fall, and the Q Series sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, originally scheduled for November at Pinehurst Resort, will not be held in 2020.
The LPGA Tour will also suspend all pre-tournament qualifying for the remainder of 2020. Fields will be set prior to the week of competition.