Last Updated on Monday, 07 September 2009 08:11 Monday, 07 September 2009 08:02
The 10 'Chosen' Ones From This Year's Duramed Futures Tour Are Headed For The LPGA
- Season Of The Mighty Mites: Petite Pounders Rock The Tour -
While teenagers dominated the 2008 Duramed FUTURES Tour, winners this year were a little more seasoned. And at least four of the top 10 also didn’t measure more than 5-foot-3 in height.
That said, 2009 was the year of the Mighty Mites, and as small as some may have been, they suffered no shortcomings on the golf course.
If you don’t believe that, ask anyone who was at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship, where tiny JEAN REYNOLDS of Newnan, Ga., pounded drive after drive for 54 holes, formally introducing herself to media from around the world as the newest American slugger with a “yes-sir, yes-ma’am” Southern charm.
Reynolds actually kicked off her special year at the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s first tournament in Winter Haven, Fla., the Florida’s Natural Growers Charity Classic.
The Georgian won in a playoff against SONG-YI CHOI of South Korea. And then she won again at the Horseshoe Casino Classic at Lost Marsh Golf Course in Hammond, Ind.
In only her second season as a professional, Reynolds held or chased the No. 1 spot on the money list all season, ultimately finishing at No. 2 on the Tour’s 2009 Money List to top-ranked MINA HARIGAE of Monterey, Calif.
Joining Reynolds and Cho as a two-time season winners this year was Canadian SAMANTHA RICHDALE of Kelowna, British Columbia.
Richdale won the first of her two wins at the third tournament, the Louisiana Pelican Classic, in Lafayette, La., and then picked up her second season win and third career victory at the Turkey Hill Classic in Harrisburg, Pa.
“This year meant a lot to me,” said fourth-ranked Richdale, who has lower 2009 LPGA status.
“If I had not made it to the LPGA next year, I wasn’t sure what my plans were going to be. But to get your card on the Duramed FUTURES Tour means that you’ve played well all year.”
Rookie MINA HARIGAE was not only the 2009 Player of the Year and the Rookie of the Year, but she might have also been the surprise player of the year.
Not that anyone thought the Californian couldn’t play – just that at age 19, when she emerged as the winner of back-to-back titles at the Ladies Titan Tire Challenge in Iowa and at the Tour’s only 72-hole major championship, the Michelob ULTRA Duramed FUTURES Players Championship.
And even then, adding a third season title at the Falls Auto Group Classic in Kentucky, Harigae was starting to look like a young pro with a bright, bright future and ice water in her veins.
This year’s mix of tournament winners included some highly experienced professionals, such as LPGA Tour member ANGELA BUZMINSKI of Oshawa, Ontario, who has won five times on the Duramed FUTURES Tour.
And another LPGA Tour member ALLISON-HANNA WILLIAMS of Oregon, whose win this year in San Antonio kicked off a confidence that has enabled her to return to the LPGA and play well enough to become ineligible for the developmental tour.
Even first-year Tour member ELISA SERRAMIA of Barcelona, Spain, who was the Ladies European Tour’s 2005 rookie of the year, stepped up to win.
So did another petite scrambler, WHITNEY WADE of Glasgow, Ky., an athletic, but slightly built former NCAA champion, DEWI CLAIRE SCHREEFEL of Diepenveen, Netherlands, a short and smiling JENNY SUH of Fairfax, Va., and another petite player who is as quiet as a church mouse, LISA MELDRUM of Montreal, Quebec.
Winning got these players some long-awaited benefits in their bank accounts and trophy cases, but for all, a tournament victory was the by-product of hard work on their games.
Even for Buzminski, who has completely rebuilt her golf swing for more than a year, little steps were big steps, and plenty of big steps were taken this year by little feet.