Five representatives of the UGA women’s golf program will open play in the first stage of LPGA Q-School on Thursday. The first of the three stages to earn LPGA status will be a 72-hole tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
“It’s the dream of all of our players to one day play professionally on the LPGA Tour,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We’re here to help them chase that dream, and I’m excited they have the opportunity to do so. I would like nothing more than in the future to see names of our former Bulldogs be as prominent on LPGA leaderboards as so many of our men currently are on the PGA Tour.”
Included in the 361 competitors are former Bulldogs Harang Lee and Marta Silva Zamora and current juniors Jillian Hollis, Rinko Mitsunaga and Bailey Tardy.
Brewer is not only excited about the opportunities for the players at Q-School. He also believes the fall will give the five remaining golfers on the roster – senior Isabella Skinner, sophomore Gabriela Coello and freshmen Stephanie Carras, Paula Neira Garcia, and Elisa Yang – an opportunity to improve under tournament conditions.
“With our three returning All-Americans at Q-School, this gives us a chance to show off the depth we’ve built inside the program,” Brewer said. “The other five players are going to compete quite a bit for us this fall, which is only going to make us a stronger team come spring.”
From Thursday-Saturday, competitors will play one round each on three different courses – the Mission Hills Country Club’s Palmer and Dinah Shore layouts and the Westin Mission Hills Resort’s Gary Player course. Following a cut, Sunday’s final round will be played on the Dinah Shore Course.
A minimum of 60 golfers from this weekend will advance to Q-School’s Stage II, which will be held October 19-22 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida. The final stage is set for November 29-December 3 at the LPGA International Courses in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Lee wrapped up her collegiate career in May after earning All-America honors in both 2016 and 2017. She made her pro debut earlier this summer on the Symetra Futures Tour.
Silva Zamora, a four-time All-American from 2009-12 and the 2011 National Player of the Year, has competed on the Ladies European Tour (LET) this year.
Hollis, a native of Rocky River, Ohio, has been named All-America each of her first two seasons in Athens. Last week, she shot 3-under to tie for third at a National Women’s Golf Association’s event on the same Mission Hills layout that will be utilized for Q-School.
Mitsunaga, a native of Roswell, Ga., was tabbed honorable mention All-America by Golfweek following her sophomore season. She shot 1-over and tied for 17th at the NWGA tournament, which featured many of the competitors for this weekend’s Q-School.
Tardy, who is from Peachtree Corners, Ga., is a two-time All-American and was the 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year. She qualified for her third U.S. Open earlier this summer, where she shot 2-under 70 in the opening round, and also competed in a LPGA event in Japan.
Former Bulldog Manuela Carbajo Ré has already earned her spot in Stage II of the LPGA qualifying structure by virtue of her position on the Symetra Futures Tour money list for 2017. Carbajo Ré has three top-25 finishes on that Tour this season.
Seventeen Georgia golfers have gone on to compete on the LPGA Tour, including four who topped $1 million in career earnings.