Stephanie Meadow regained her LPGA Tour card when she closed with a bogey-free 67 to tie for eighth in the IOA Golf Classic in Florida.
The Jordanstown star (26) made four birdies in an immaculate final round to finish six shots behind China’s Ruixin Liu on eight-under par, picking up $3,271 to remain fourth in the Volvik Race for the Card standings with $63,124 and assure her return to the LPGA Tour with just the Symetra Tour Championship to play.
She joins Dottie Ardina and Ruixin Liu in securing her LPGA Tour card for 2019 after recording 12 top-25 finishes this season including a win and eight top-10 results.
“Amazing, it has been a lot of hard work and realizing that it has paid off is crazy,” said Meadow, one of three players in the current Volvik Race for the Card top-10 to play in all 20 events so far this year. “You never quite know and don’t want to get too excited. It’s really cool, really cool.”
What makes the occasion extra special is that Meadow’s father Robert would have celebrated his 67th birthday earlier this month. Born on September 17, 1951, he passed away in May of 2015 after a short battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Robert was Meadow’s inspiration when it came to pursuing the game of golf.
“I think my dad would be very proud, it was his birthday a couple weeks ago,” Meadow said. “I think that’s a pretty awesome birthday present. I’m just really happy that I get a second chance because I came down here and had to work my way back.”
Meadow lost her LPGA Tour membership for the 2018 season after suffering a stress fracture in her lower back last year. When she was set to take a medical exemption, it was too late to regain even partial status.
In her first start as a professional, Meadow finished solo third at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Having spent this year on the Symetra Tour to build her strength, she is right on track to showcase that same form on the big stage once again.
“I won’t be a rookie and have already learned a lot of things from being out there before,” said Meadow.
“I’m hoping I can use that to help me perform to my ultimate potential next year. I’ve been through a lot the last few years and I’m so glad I have such outstanding support from Investec, Ireland Golf, my family and boyfriend. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without them.”
Liu, who won her maiden title at the Island Resort Championship in June, fired a 67 to win by a stroke from the Philippines’ Dottie Ardina, compatriot Simin Feng and American Dana Finkelstein on 14-under par and move up to second in the money list,
Leona Maguire had two birdies and two bogeys, including one at the 18th, in a level par 71 that left tied for 20th, nine strokes behind the winner on five-under.
While Meadow looks certain to finish in the top 10 in the money list and regain her card, Slieve Russell rookie Maguire (23) is 35th with $26,521 and will need a good performance in the $225,000 Symetra Tour Championship to break into the top 30 in the money list who will be exempt into the new qualifying school, Q-Series.
If she’s to avoid Q-School and win her LPGA Tour card directly, she will likely need to win the Tour Championship in Daytona Beach on Sunday.