Roussin-Bouchard Leads Final Stage of LPGA Q-School; Burnham Misses Cut by 3
December 6, 2021
By Michael R Fermoyle
MOBILE, Ala. -- Pauline Roussin-Bouchard was the medalist in Stage II of the LPGA Q-School, and she's halfway to claiming medalist honors again at the Final Stage.
The 21-year-old former No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings shot a 7-under-par 65 on Sunday in the fourth round of the Final Stage. That gave her a 72-hole total of 267 (19 under par), which was two strokes better than the second-place total posted by Hye-Jin Choi, who shot 66. Na Rin An shot 66, as well, putting her in third at 272.
But there are still 72 holes left to play, Thursday through next Sunday. The starting field of 110 was cut to the top 70 and ties (74 in all) after the first four rounds, which were played on the Robert Trent Jones courses at Magnolia Grove -- Crossings and Falls. So now the 74 survivors will play the last four rounds of the Final Stage on the RTJ courses at Highland Oaks -- Highland and Marshwood -- in Dothan, Ala.
When those last four rounds of Q-School have been played, and the 144-hole Final Stage ordeal is done, the top 45 finishers -- and ties -- will gain status for the 2022 LPGA Tour.
Roussin-Bouchard, who is from Toulon, France, was an All-American at the University of South Carolina. She turned professional after the conclusion of the 2020-21 college season (she tied for 20th individually at the NCAA Championships), and she won her second tournament as a pro, the Didrikson's Skafto Open in Sweden. (The victory was worth 33,000 euros.)
In all, she played five events on Ladies European Tour and had three top-7 finishes.
She also won Stage II of Q-School by five strokes in October. That was played on two courses at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla.
Roussin-Bouchard, who was No. 2 in the LET Driving Distance stats this summer with an average of 297 yards per drive, started the Final Stage at the Magnolia Grove's Falls course, and she was even par through 17 holes, but she eagled the par-5 18th for a 2-under 69, and her scores got lower in each of the next three rounds (67-66-65).
She made four consecutive birdies on the back nine at Crossings in the second round. On Sunday, she birdied four of five holes from the sixth through the 10th at Crossings, and added three in a row from the 14th to the 16th.
Choi qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open when she was 16 years old and made the cut. She nearly won it the next year, finishing second, two strokes beyond Sung Hyun Park, then turned pro at the end of 2017. The now 22-year-old Korean has won 12 times on the Korean LPGA Tour.
Like Roussiin-Bouchard, she got off to a less-than-great start in the Final Stage. She was 2 over after her first six holes at the Falls course on Thursday, but she didn't make another bogey until the third hole of the third round, and by then she was 8 under for the tournament. She started slowly again on Sunday -- 1 over through five holes at Crossings -- but she eagled the par-5 sixth, made four consecutive birdies from the ninth through the 12th and added another birdie at the par-3 17th on the way to her 66.
As for An, 25, she led an LPGA Tour event, the 2021 BMW Ladies Championship (Oct. 21-24) in her native South Korea after a first-round 64. She was hoping to win that week, and thereby avoid Q-School altogether. But she ended up tied for third.
So she was in Mobile this week, too, and she bogyed her first hole on Day 1, at Falls. But she birdied Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8, and finished the first round with a 67. She was in first place after 36 holes, with a 134, but slipped back into sixth with a 72 (1 over) at Falls on Saturday. After starting her round with a bogey on Sunday at Crossings, she played the next 16 holes in 7 under.
It took an aggregate of 287 (1 over) to make the top 70 at Magnolia Grove. There was a 13-way tie for 62nd at that number. Among the casualties was Sarah Burnham, the former Minnesota state high school champion (Class AAA) and three-time MGA Player of the Year from Wayzata.
Burnham, 25, got through Q-School two years ago -- for the second time -- but the 2020 LPGA season was disrupted by Covid 19 -- what wasn't? -- and she played in only nine tournaments during the year. As it turned out, Covid 19 also caused the 2020 LPGA Q-School to be canceled. So even though she finished out of the top 100 on the money list (she was No. 122, with $29,239), Burnham kept her status for 2021. This year, she played something closer to a full schedule, 16 tournaments, but finished outside of the top 100 again, No. 116 with $89,057 -- and that meant a return to Q-School.
She was inside the top 70 after 36 holes, at even-par 143. The problem came on the front nine of the third round, when she made a double bogey and a triple on the front nine at Crossings. She fought back with two birdies late in the round, but her 74 left her on the outside (2 over) looking in, and on Sunday she didn't make her first birdie until the 17th hole at Falls. She ended up with a 73, which put her at 290, and that was three too many.
Burnham will have a tour to play on next year, at least. By virtue of having been in the Final Stage of Q-School, she will have full status on the Symetra Tour, and that will give her a way to get back on the LPGA Tour. Casey Danielson used that route to earn LPGA status for 2022. The former four-time Wisconsin state high school champion from Osceola won twice and finished No. 3 on the Symetra money list in '21, with $114,534, and the top 10 from the Symetra money list move up to the LPGA the following year.
2021 LPGA Q-School
First 72 holes (of 144)
At Magnolia Grove
Crossings Course (par 71)
Falls Course (par 72)
Results from the first four rounds (the top 70 finishers will play another 72 holes Thursday through next Sunday, at the two Highland Oaks courses in Dothan, Ala., and the top 45 at the end of 144 holes will gain status on the LPGA Tour for 2022.)
1. Pauline Roussin-Bouchard 69-67-66-65--267 (-19)
2. Hye-Jin Choi 69-66-68-66--269
3. Na Rin An 67-67-72-66--272
T4. Stephanie Kyriacou 69-72-69-63--273
T4. Atthaya Thitikul 73-65-66-69--273
What it took to qualify for the final 72 holes -- 287 (13-way tie for 62nd)
88. Sarah Burnham 71-72-74-73--290