Royal Portrush's Stephanie Meadow stormed home in 31 to open with a four under 68 in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Alabama, the state where she triumphed as a college amateur with the University of Alabama's "Roll Tide".
But Irish rookie, who is battling to earn the cash she needs to win her full LPGA Tour card, is preparing herself mentally to go the LPGA Q-School later this year.
One over after nine holes at the RTJ Golf Trail Capitol Hill's Senator Course in Pratville, Meadow drew on she rallied on the back nine to fire five birdies in a six--birdie round, finishing the day tied for 12th on four-under. Scores
South Korea's Mi Jung Hur and defending champion Stacy Lewis lead on eight under after rounds of 64, one clear of South Africa's Paula Reto.
Ranked 91st in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, LPGA.com reported that Meadow played in an all-Alabama group with fellow Alabama grads Kathleen Ekey and Jenny Suh.
“It’s not every day you hear Roll Tide for all of us, so it was really something special and I think it’s really cool we got to do it,” Meadow said. “We were giving it to each other at the end, the first tee, spectators, it was great.”
Meadow is scheduled to tee it up in the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament next week unless she makes enough cash to be in the top 40 in the LPGA money list at the end of the season.
The LPGA wrote:
After making $271,373 at the U.S. Women’s Open with a third-place finish, Meadow would currently sit No. 38 on the money list with that total. But she’s a non-member but could still qualify for the Tour under the non-member top 40 clause if the amount of money she earns this year falls inside what the top 40 on the money list earned.
That would make next week’s efforts futile and pointless, but with eight events left in the season and Meadow not in the field for any, this is her last shot. Therefore, it’s going to take a big week to accrue enough money to make that early December trip to Daytona Beach unneeded.
“I mean, I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that I’m just saying that I’m going to Q School, and if I happen to be a Top 40 then that’s a bonus,” Meadow said. “Q School’s just an opportunity to put pressure on and see how I perform, so I’m only going to get better from it.”
Meadow could miss out at Q-School but still win her card if she secures some more starts in the remaining eight events and wins enough to finish inside that Top 40.
Last year, the player finishing 40th in the money list earned $355,949, which leaves Meadow around $90,000 and needing at least a Top-three finish this week if she fails to get any more starts this year.