An Narin of South Korea watches her shot during the seventh round of the LPGA Q-Series at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, Alabama, on Saturday, in this photo provided by LPGA. (Yonhap)
South Korean golfer An Narin has captured her LPGA Tour card with a flourish, winning the grueling qualifying tournament by shooting the best score in the field on the final day.
An finished in first place at the LPGA Q-Series, an eight-round marathon that wrapped up at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, Alabama, on Sunday (local time).
An, a two-time Korea LPGA (KLPGA) winner, carded a six-under 66, with seven birdies against one bogey, in the final round to finish at 33-under 541 overall. The 25-year-old was one stroke better than Pauline Roussin-Bouchard of France, who shot a 72 on Sunday.
The Q-Series was conducted over two phases. From the initial field of 110, the top 70 and ties survived the first cut after four rounds. Then the top 45 players and ties after another four rounds received LPGA status for 2022.
Eight South Koreans entered the Q-Series and five made the first cut. Beside An, two other South Koreans ended inside the top 45. Choi Hye-jin, a three-time KLPGA Player of the Year, shot 17-under to tie for eighth place, while Hong Yae-eun, a 19-year-old KLPGA rookie in 2021, put up 13-under to tie for 12th.
The trio will be joining a deep pool of South Korean talent on the top women's golf tour. South Korea has been the most successful country in women's golf in recent years, consistently producing winners at both regular tournaments and major championships. South Korea currently boasts four players inside the top 10 in the world rankings: Ko Jin-young (No. 2), Park In-bee (No. 3), Kim Sei-young (No. 5) and Kim Hyo-joo (No. 9).
The country has also had winners of the LPGA Player of the Year awards in four of the past five seasons. Park Sung-hyun and Ryu So-yeon were co-winners in 2017, and Ko Jin-young won hers in 2019 and 2021, with Kim Sei-young being sandwiched in between with her win in 2020.
Also, seven of the nine LPGA Rookie of the Year winners between 2011 and 2019 hailed from South Korea.
The final cut of the Q-Series came at four-under 570, and two South Koreans who reached the final stage just came up short. Kim Min-g, a long-time member of the second-tier Symetra Tour, finished at three-under despite shooting back-to-back 69s on the weekend. Park Kum-kang, who won a Symetra Tour tournament in 2021, ended at two-under after stumbling to a 73 on Sunday. (Yonhap)