The highly anticipated Stage II of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament returns to Venice, Florida after getting rescheduled from October due to damage from Hurricane Ian in late September.
The tournament, which serves as a stepping-stone to Q-Series and the LPGA Tour, takes place in the Sunshine State from November 17-20 and while the exploits of Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow have inspired many young players into the game, there are no Irish players in the field this time around.
In all one hundred and seventy eight individuals will compete in a 72-hole, stroke-play format at Plantation Golf and Country Club on the Bobcat and Panther courses. There is no cut during the week and players will tee off in foursomes in an effort to alleviate daylight concerns.
Maguire & Meadow have firmly put Irish women’s golf on the map but once again in 2023 it will just be the pair of them on the LPGA Tour. Their respective performances have been immense, particularly Maguire at the Solheim Cup in 2021 and then getting her first LPGA victory earlier this year.
Ireland of course has a plethora of elite amateur talent currently plying their trade in the United States with the likes of Lauren Walsh (Wake Forest), Beth Coulter (Alabama), Annabel Wilson (UCLA), and Sara Byrne (Miami) among others expected to join Maguire and Meadow in the future.
Olivia Mehaffey too might have been playing in Q-School this week but she has taken a step away from the game to look after her mental health for the time being.
With the KPMG Women’s Irish Open returned to the LET schedule this year after a ten-year hiatus and proving to be a roaring success with both players and spectators alike we will hopefully see this production line of golfing talent continue for many years to come.
Players competing in Venice this week range from ages 16-40 and include 36 amateurs, 104 qualifiers from Stage I, players exempt by Rolex Ranking and by WAPT, three exempt amateurs, Epson Tour members ranked within of the top-125 as of August 8, 2022 and LPGA Tour members ranked outside the top-150 as of October 10, 2022.
“I’m actually very excited to play,” said Stage I medalist, Alessandra Fanali. “I’ve been practicing and playing a lot in the past two months but not on a competitive level, so it’s a good test for me and my game. I’m in a good place mentally too, so I’m excited to see what’s coming next.”
“It’s exciting [to play Stage II], but I’m nervous still,” said Chanoknan Angurasaranee, who finished her rookie season at No. 92 on the Epson Tour’s official money list. “Playing on the [Epson] Tour this year really helped me a lot with the pressure [of professional golf]. I think it’s going to help me a lot during this week.”
Top players at the end of the week, with a specific number being determined before the start of round one, will move on to Q-Series in December for a chance to earn 2023 eligibility on the LPGA Tour. Those who do not advance and complete all 72 holes will earn eligibility for the Epson Tour, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA.