Golf Digest WomanDecember 7, 2009

The Graduates

The LPGA Tour is no stranger to rain delays, but the Monday finish of the 90-hole 2009 LPGA Q-School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., must have seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to many of the participants. After going off last Wednesday and sitting out part of Friday and all of Saturday because of drenching rains, the 106-player field was cut to top 70 and ties after 72 holes Sunday night, with the remaining finalists battling it out Monday for 20 fully exempt spots on the 2010 LPGA Tour. And it was obvious that the drawn-out proceedings took their toll on many.

Take for instance Nikki Garrett, 2008 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year and famous calendar girl. She had the collective heartbeats of the male American golf audience beating a little faster when she took charge of the tournament in the first two rounds and held the lead alone at -6 as play was called Friday. But a third-round 78 dropped her a dozen spots down the leaderboard, and a closing 79 Monday knocked off the chart completely, landing her at T43 with no U.S. status for 2010. (Sorry, fellas.)

Others apparently used the rain delay to regroup and shake off the first-round nerves. Recent LET "It" girl Marianne Skarpnord of Norway followed an opening 76 with a 66 and three more rounds under par to finish T-2, and Spain's Tania Elosegui (of Solheim Cup fame) also turned a first-round 76 into fully exempt status after following up with four solid rounds in the low 70s.

Medalist honors, not so surprisingly, went to former Duke standout and 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur champ Amanda Blumenhurst, who finished with a four-under-par 68 for a 90-hole total of 351, two strokes better than Skarpnord and Katie Kempter of the University of Denver.

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Other notables who will be playing full-time next year include former NCAA champions Maria Hernandez and Azahara Munoz, as well as Liz Janangelo, Nicole Hage, Juliet Granada and former European Solheim Cup players Iben Tinning and Gwladys Nocera. For a full list of the 20 fully exempt Q-School grads, click here.

--Stina Sternberg