USGA CHAMPIONS
Gillman, Curtis Cup Teammates Earn LPGA Tour Cards November 5, 2018 By David Shefter, USGA

Kristen Gillman was one of four 2018 USA Curtis Cup teammates to earn their 2019 LPGA Tour cards. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Anyone who followed the 2018 Curtis Cup Match at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., saw just how much talent the USA Team possessed. The group produced a historic 17-3 victory over Great Britain and Ireland to reclaim the Cup.

Next year, half that squad, including two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman, will be playing on the LPGA Tour after ranking among the low 45 scorers and ties in the newly created Q-Series, conducted the past two weeks at Course Nos. 6 and 7 of the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

Instead of one 72- or 90-hole event to determine cards for the upcoming season, the LPGA Tour created the Q-Series for its third and final stage of Q-School. It consisted of two consecutive 72-hole events with no cut for the 102 competitors. The cumulative scores from the eight rounds determined each player’s final standing.

Reigning NCAA champion and 2018 McCormack Medal winner Jennifer Kupcho, of Westminster, Colo.; Lauren Stephenson, of Lexington, S.C.; Gillman, of Austin, Texas; and Lilia Vu, of Fountain Valley, Calif., were among the eight amateurs to earn full playing privileges for 2019. Interestingly enough, they are the Nos. 1-4 players in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (Vu is 1, followed by Kupcho, Gillman and Stephenson).

Beginning this year, the LPGA Tour is allowing amateurs who earn their cards the option of waiting until July 1 to turn professional. This allows players currently on college teams to wait until after their seasons are finished to determine if they want to turn pro. Previously, a player who earned a card had to immediately declare her intention.

Kupcho, a senior at Wake Forest University, has elected to wait, telling golfweek.com: “I’ve been working so hard at Wake. I’m not just going to throw three and a half years of work out.”

Kupcho finished one stroke behind Q-Series winner Jeongeun Lee6, of the Republic of Korea, at 17-under 559.

But University of Alabama All-Americans Gillman and Stephenson, and UCLA All-American Vu, plan to play as professionals when the 2019 season begins in January. Vu, who is set to graduate with a political science degree next quarter, made the biggest final-round charge on Saturday on Course No. 7, carding a 5-under 67 to finish tied for 27th after starting the day outside the top 45. Stephenson is also a senior, while Gillman is a junior.

Gillman capped a brilliant 2018 that saw her become the third player in Curtis Cup history to produce a 5-0-0 record, claim a second U.S. Women’s Amateur title at The Golf Club of Tennessee, help the USA win the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship with Kupcho and Vu, and win an event on the Japan LPGA Tour.

Five USGA champions came up short in their bids this weekend, including three-time champion Eun Jeong Seong, of the Republic of Korea. Also earning Symetra Tour status for 2019 were Kyung Kim (2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links), Julieta Granada (2004 U.S. Girls’ Junior), Taylor Totland (2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball) and Doris Chen (2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior).

Rose Returns to Top Spot

Brooks Koepka’s first stint at No. 1 in the Official World Ranking (OWGR) lasted only two weeks. At least he relinquished the top spot to a fellow U.S. Open champion.

Justin Rose, of England, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, regained the top spot  by successfully defending the Turkish Airlines Open title on the PGA European Tour, defeating Haotong Li, of the People’s Republic of China, in a playoff. Rose, who held the No. 1 ranking for a week after losing a playoff to Keegan Bradley in the BMW Championship in September, came up victorious in extra holes this time, with a par on the first playoff hole.

Koepka, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, rose to No. 1 when he won The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Korea on Oct. 21.

DeChambeau Notches Win No. 5

Bryson DeChambeau ended 2017 ranked just inside the top 100 of the OWGR at No. 99. The 2015 U.S. Amateur champion will likely end 2018 in the top five. DeChambeau notched his fourth PGA Tour victory of 2018 – and his fifth overall – on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nev., edging Patrick Cantlay by one stroke. A long eagle putt on the par-5 16th hole proved to be the difference.

DeChambeau, who is expected to be ranked No. 5 when the new OWGR is released on Monday, moved ahead of 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, and has his sights on No. 4 Justin Thomas and 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who sits at No. 3.

The Modesto, Calif., native is also the third U.S. Amateur champion in the championship’s post-Tiger Woods era to win at least five PGA Tour events. Woods won the title three straight times from 1994-96 before turning pro; since then, 1997 champion Matt Kuchar has won on Tour seven times, and 2004 champion Ryan Moore has also captured five victories.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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