Huge final weekend ends with sister act
The 2012 tournament season officially ended on Monday with the conclusion of Q-School for the Ladies European Tour. We generally don't cover much of the LET over here in the United States, but Q-School had a couple of newsworthy notes.
First, the medalist was 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, who triumphed less than a month after her older sister Moriya was co-medalist at the LPGA Tour Q-School. I don't know this for a fact, but I'd bet that sisters have never won the two big women's tour Q-Schools in the same year. And after playing together – and so well – for several years in junior events across the United States and around the world, the two sisters from Thailand now will go their own ways.
"I'm going to miss her a lot because we have to separate," Ariya said on Monday. "I have to go with my dad and Moriya will go with my mom. I'm really happy I won because it will make me feel confident for my professional career."
Among the other players earning their LET cards were Emily Taylor, who dominated the English amateur ranks last year, and Holly Clyburn, one of the players on Britain-Ireland's victorious Curtis Cup team. The star of that team, 16-year-old Charley Hull, struggled to a 76 on Monday and missed out on her card.
Also missing out was Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods who starred at Wake Forest. Hull and Woods, arguably the two biggest names in the event, earned partial status on the LET for 2013.
Three Americans did earn their cards, however -- Mallory Fraiche, who played for Arkansas-Little Rock and on the Symetra Tour tied for eighth; Katie Burnett, who played at South Carolina, finished ninth; and Dawn Shockley, who played at the University of Denver and on the Symetra Tour, tied for 15th.
At the bottom of this post is a complete list of players earning their LET cards.
Q-School wrapped up an amazing final weekend of competition:
--Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa by 12 shots a week after he won the Thailand Golf Championship by 11. No one can be sadder that there isn't an event this week than Schwartzel.
--Sergio Garcia won the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia as persistent storms forced the event to be shortened to 54 holes, shooting a 61 on Sunday to clinch the victory in the Asian Tour's season-ender. Just as impressive to me is that oft-delayed events like this one require a little extra concentration. And Garcia, who so often lets his frustrations get the best of him, showed that concentration.
--Daniel Popovic, ranked no. 1,251 in the world, led from wire-to-wire to win the Australian PGA Championship. The young man deserves an extra golf clap because he succeeded despite almost giving up the game to care for his dad, who is suffering from terminal bone cancer and spent the week in the hospital.
--Angel Cabrera won the Argentina Open, which is now part of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Cabrera, who of course owns a Masters Green Jacket as well as a U.S. Open trophy, spent many years plying the circuits of South America, and had won the Argentina Open twice before. He has close to three dozen wins on the Argentine Tour and Cordoba Tour to go with his majors and handful of European Tour titles.
--Asia won the Royal Trophy in a playoff over Europe in Brunei, thanks to a thrilling comeback. The Europeans jumped out to a 3.5 to 0.5 lead after the Friday four-balls in the Ryder Cup-style event, but the Asians worked their way back to within half a point on Saturday and rallied again in the Sunday singles to tie the match at 8-8.
Under Ryder Cup rules, Europe would have retained the trophy as defending champions. But the Royal Trophy went to a sudden-death four-ball match between Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari for Europe and Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim for Asia. Kim drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to give Asia the trophy for the second time in the event's six-year history.
So that's it for 2012. We now have a whole 17 days off before the 2013 season begins on Friday, Jan. 4 at the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Here are the players who earned their 2013 LET cards:
1. Ariya Jutanugarn -24
2. Nikki Campbell -19
2. Emily Taylor -19
4. Louise Larsson -17
5. Xi Yu Lin -16
6. Camilla Lennarth -15
7. Malene Jorgensen -13
8. Mallory Fraiche -12
9. Charlotte Ellis -11
9. Katie Burnett -11
9. Maria Salinas -11
9. Julia Davidsson -11
9. Alexandra Vilatte -11
9. Bonita Bredenhann -11
15. Paula Hurtado -10
15. Dawn Shockley -10
17. Daniela Holmqvist -9
17. Sharmila Nicollet -9
17. Whitney Hillier -9
20. Elina Nummenpaa -8
20. Laura Cabanillas -8
20. Maha Haddioui -8
20. Virginia Espejo -8
20. Sarah King -8
25. Cathryn Bristow -7
25. Laura Jansone -7
25. Holly Clyburn -7
25. Jia Yun Li -7
25. Melanie Maetzler -7
25. Margarita Ramos -7