The final stage of qualifying for the 2017 LPGA Tour included four Georgians in the field, and the 90-hole event concluded with some decidedly mixed results for the four.
Valdosta’s Dori Carter regained fully exempt status for the 2017 season, tying for 14th thanks to a 9-under 63 in the fourth round.
Rookie pro Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale tied for 21st, missing a top-20 finish needed for exempt status by one shot, but has partial LPGA status for 2017 and should be able to get into a decent number of tournaments.
Newnan’s Jean Reynolds had the latest in a string of frustrating finishes in the finals of qualifying, missing by two shots of a top-45 finish and limited status on the tour next year.
For Milledgeville’s Ashlan Ramsey, a difficult rookie season on the LPGA Tour ended on an all-too-familiar note, as she failed to make the 72-hole cut and will not have any LPGA Tour status next season.
The 2017 season will be the seventh for Carter on the LPGA Tour, and she needed a strong showing in the finals of qualifying after suffering through her poorest season since her rookie year of 2011. Carter finished 121st on the money list, just outside the top 120 finish required to have partial status on the tour next year.
Carter finished with a 5-under 355 total for 90 holes, finishing among the top 20 thanks to her play on one of the two courses hosting the tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach. Carter shot 69 in the second round on the Jones course, carding five birdies on the back nine for a 4-under 32.
After shooting 74 the next day on the Hills course, Carter was tied for 62nd after three rounds, five shots outside the top 20 and uncomfortably close to the 72-hole cut line.
She responded with a 63 the next day, playing her last 10 holes in 9-under to vault into a tie for 10th. She maintained her spot in the top 20 with a final round 74 on the Hills course, giving her a 7-over 223 total in her three rounds on that layout.
In her two rounds on the Jones course, Carter shot 12-under 132, highlighted by a 28 on the back nine in the fourth round. After a birdie at the ninth, she holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 10th. After four birdies on the next seven holes, Carter closed out her career best nine holes with an eagle on the par-5 18th for the low score of the tournament.
Over 18 holes on the back nine of the Jones course, Carter was 11-under par.
Carter has been a regular in the qualifying finals since 2010, finishing 128, 99, 104, 70, 106 and 121 on the money list. She was exempt in 2015 after placing 70th in earnings the previous year, but did not play well enough in qualifying to get her exempt status back for the 2016 season.
During the 2016 season, Carter made it into 15 tournaments and made seven cuts, with her best finishes ties for 23rd and 32nd.
Prior to joining the LPGA Tour, Carter enjoyed a successful career at Mississippi State, twice earning All-America honors. She won as a rookie on the Symetra Tour in 2010 and qualified for the LPGA Tour the next year in her first attempt. She won the Georgia Women’s Open at Summer Grove in 2011 during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour.
Stackhouse also won the Georgia Women’s Open at Summer Grove, with her victory coming in 2009 while she was still competing in junior events. Stackhouse played her college golf at Stanford, and led the Cardinal to an NCAA title in 2015, turning pro after she graduated earlier this year.
In her professional debut, Stackhouse tied for 47th in an LPGA Tour event in Portland, and played a handful of tournaments on the Symetra Tour before her tie for 21st in the finals of qualifying.
Stackhouse posted scores of 72-71-72-70-72 for a 3-under 367 total, and is listed as 22nd on the priority list among the finishers in the finals.
Reynolds, a Symetra Tour veteran who played two seasons on the LPGA Tour, was right on the top-45 cutline after 72 holes, entering the final round tied for 44th. But after shooting 72 the day before on the Hills course, she shot 76 in the final round to finish at 4-over 364.
The previous two years in the qualifying finals, Reynolds had finished right on the score needed to earn partial status, but made just one LPGA start in the two seasons. She was 41st on the Symetra Tour money list this year, the fifth time in six full seasons she has placed between 27th and 43rd. She played on the LPGA Tour in 2009 and ’10 after placing second in earnings on the Symetra Tour in 2008.
Ramsey shot 68 this year in the Bahamas in her first round as an LPGA Tour member, but faded to an 82 the next day to miss the cut and struggled throughout the entire season. She made just two of 17 cuts, finished near the bottom of the money list and things didn’t get any better in the qualifying finals, where she shot 19-over 307 to finish ahead of only three players who completed 72 holes. Like Carter and Stackhouse, Ramsey is a former Georgia Women’s Open champion, winning during her first year as a pro in 2015.
Georgia will have three players on the 2017 LPGA Tour, with Carter and Stackhouse joined by fourth-year tour member Katie Burnett of Brunswick, who is exempt after the best year of her career in 2016.
Burnett advanced from 99 to 87 to 85 in her first three seasons, and was 73rd this year with $233,700, most of that total coming from a tie for second in the LPGA event in Hawaii.