The final round of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament Stage I has ended, and 99 players will be moving on to Stage II. Those who made the cut after three rounds took on the Dinah Shores Course one last time to decide whether or not they would be heading to Florida for Stage II of the Qualifying Tournament. Among those making the cut are veterans and first years, but they all have the same goal: making it to Q-Series and playing on the LPGA Tour in 2024.
Amateur Fiona Xu is near the top of the leaderboard after 72 holes of play. Xu is the 2022 Australian Women’s Amateur champion, but that is just the beginning of her accolades. She competed in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and collected a New Zealand Women’s Amateur title in 2020. Now Xu is looking to make her mark in the professional scene, and she did. The New Zealander went bogey-free in her final round at Stage I, turning in a card of 70 to finish T3 for the tournament. Throughout her 72 holes of play, Xu only recorded three bogeys while cruising to Stage II.
“I was very nervous coming into this week because there are a lot of players, like over 300, so I just told myself to stay in the moment and just try to get through the week the best I can,” said Xu. “I didn’t really have high expectations coming into this week, but finishing near the top gives me a little more confidence going forward. I showed myself I can play amongst the best players, but I have the same expectations for Stage II, and I will see how it goes from there.”
Benedetta Moresco will join Xu as a first-timer heading to Stage II. Moresco put up solid rounds early in the week and coasted her way to Stage II after an over-par final round. Moresco had some extra motivation this week, as her sister, Angelica Moresco, is a member of the Epson Tour. Benedetta only declared pro a few weeks ago, but thanks to a few helpful words from her sister, she is headed to Stage II and playing professional golf with her sister in 2024.
“This week was just incredible. The toughest part for me was just remembering all the holes because there are three courses, but I just tried to stay in the moment and think my way around,” said Moresco. “I am very excited to play with my sister. I just turned pro a couple of weeks ago, so that is also very exciting. My sister told me, ‘Stay hydrated and play safe,’ so I tried to do that, and it worked out pretty good.”
Alisa Rodriguez is heading back to Stage II and will have status once again on the Epson Tour after an injury kept her out for her 2023 season, making her unable to keep her status. Rodriguez has competed in LPGA events, including the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, after winning the LPGA National Championship in 2021. Now Rodriguez is trying to make her short stop with the world’s best players a more permanent location.
“The hardest part about Stage I is the weather. The heat can really get to you, but living in Austin, I play in this type of heat a lot,” said Rodriguez. “Playing in the other events like I have in the past, like the KPMG (Women’s PGA Championship), and seeing my game can compete out there gave me some momentum coming into Stage I, especially because an injury kept me out most the year.”
Kayla Thompson (E, T70) on shooting two under in her final round to get to Stage II:
“I’m really proud of myself for staying patient and sticking to the process all week, but especially today. There has been a lot of hard work all season, and it feels great to see it pay off this week. I felt really good coming into the week; my game felt solid. It feels even better leaving knowing this wasn’t my best, and I left some shots out on the course, but the game was still good enough.”
Lizzie Win (-1, T55) on advancing to Stage II for the first time:
“I just feel a very big sigh of relief. Those last four holes, I was really feeling the pressure, and I was definitely a little shaky. I just reminded myself that pressure is a privilege, and I kept reminding myself that. My past two times here, I didn’t make it past the first cut, and I made a lot of progress this year. Just feels like a big weight is off my shoulders.”