Royal Portrush's Stephanie Meadow confessed she was "gutted" after she cruelly missed out on a full LPGA Tour card at the 11th hole of a marathon play-off at Daytona Beach in Florida.
The 22-year-old was pipped for the 20th and final card at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in a Monday finish when American Karlin Beck chipped in from 75 feet on 18th at the Jones Course at LPGA International.
“This is tough,” an emotional Meadow told LPGA.com after securing conditional status after 101 holes at the Final Stage made up of five tournament rounds and 11 play off holes — three aggregate play-off holes and another eight in sudden-death.
Left to look back on missed chances on the greens, she said: “I didn’t play bad, I probably had the most opportunities but I wasn’t able to make anything.”
As for Beck, who played on the LPGA Tour in 2012 and 2013, she said: “I hit my approach shot in and came up short of the green and we played that hole so many times and I knew exactly how it was going to break. It was definitely the shot of my life so far.”
Meadow, who finished a sensational third behind Michelle Wie on her professional debut in the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No 2 last June, will have LPGA Tour membership through Category 17 in 2015 and with additional invitations, she won't lack for playing opportunities.
Still, she wanted the big prize.
“It’s good, but it is not what I wanted,” said the 2013-14 First-Team All-American at Alabama. “I’m still proud to be an LPGA Tour member and I’ll have a lot of opportunities to play my way into better status.”
Thank you to everyone for your support! Gutted to not have my full card! BUT it has been a successful year! Can't wait for next year ! :)— Stephanie Meadow (@StephMeadow20) December 8, 2014
It was still a bitter end to a long week for the Jordanstown native, who was left to rue bogeys at the 16th and 17th as she posted a three over 75 in the fifth and final round that dropped her from 14th overnight into a seven-way tie for the last three cards.
Only the top 20 — no ties — get full status via Q-School but Meadow tied for 18th and ended up in what turned out to be a gruelling contest that went to sudden-death and then into Monday due to lack of light.
The process began with a three-hole aggregate playoff that served only to eliminate one of the seven contenders.
Israel's Laetitia Beck and American Garrett Phillips then birdied the first sudden-death hole, the fourth of the play-off, to secure cards No's 18 and 19.
That left Meadow, Korea's Julie Yang and Americans Karli Beck and Casey Grice to fight it out for the 20th and final full card.
Yang was eliminated at the third sudden death hole, their sixth of the day, but it was too dark to continue and play was suspended until 7.25 am on Monday.
After all three players parred the next three holes — Meadow had one great chance but also made a superb sand save to stay alive — Grice bogeyed the 10th extra hole (their 100th of the week) and was eliminated.
Meadow and Beck headed to the 18th once more but as rain fell it was the Ulster star who lost out as she ran through the back into the first cut of rough
Beck had come up short of the green but she miraculously chipped in from 75 feet and looked on as Meadow failed to match her.