BELLEAIR, FLORIDA | They’re not on TV, at least not this weekend, where Lexi Thompson, Nelly Korda and Jennifer Kupcho battle it out for victory. But what kind of group of players at stake as they advance to the finals of the Pelican Women’s Championship, presented by Konica Minolta and Raymond James, is at least as important, if not more important, than the trophy. They fight for the top 100 in the Race to the CME Globe, which secures status on the LPGA Tour for 2022 with no return to the Q series in December.
Annie Park, who is four under par at the Pelican Golf Club on laps 68-69-69 and a predicted 98th position in the race, knew where she was before leaving the points tent on Saturday. “I started looking this week,” said Park. “I realized that when you go to the LPGA website, you will see your intended (destination). I thought, ‘Wow, how do I calculate the new system?’ But now it’s nice that there is the projected ranking so that I know where I am. “
Stephanie Meadow, who started the week at 101, shot four under on Saturday to move just under the wire at 99.
“I just checked it two seconds ago,” Meadow said after stepping out of the gate. “You know, there is so much golf (left). I still have 18 holes (on Sunday), and not just me, but everyone else. There are other girls who can undress me too.
“I think the most important thing is to just do my best and go as deep as you can. You know, after 10 yesterday I had under (for the week) on my head. That doesn’t leave it to chance. I will try (tomorrow) to do my job. “
Few watch them. Her galleries are friends and family and a few fans who have parked to watch the whole field play through. But the intensity is unmistakable. Watch these players and you would swear they are fighting for the title.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s very stressful,” said Park. “I took two months off (in the middle of the season) and knew I would be in that position. I don’t regret my decision. At the same time, it’s also stressful. I’m just happy to be out here and playing again.
“So far, I’m doing well. I just have to drop a couple of putts and that has been the (situation) for the past two days. As long as those putts are falling tomorrow I think I’ll be fine. After this week I’m going back to Dallas. I am based there. Then I’ll play my heart out tomorrow and see what happens. “
The unspoken hope was that she could decorate for Christmas and take a few weeks off without worrying about the two-week grind of the Q series.
“It was tough,” Meadow said, referring to the fact that your job was reduced to a single round on Sunday for the next year. “It was up and down. I mean, I had a couple of good placements at the beginning of the year. I played the ANA (inspiration) well there. And then only really fought for the middle part and towards the end.
“I think it’s going to be a real mental grind. Trying to get up and get out is the most important thing. I’m finally starting to do it. “
A player who had no expectations is now checking her Race to the CME Globe status even though she doesn’t.
“I tried not to pay attention,” said Lauren Coughlin. “I’m just trying not to put additional pressure on myself. I mean, I tried not to. This week I mainly tried not to (look). But I have a little. “
Coughlin has made the best move bubble players have ever made. She started the week with 106th place in points. They predicted laps of 65-68-68 with one lap to go in 95th place.
“My husband knows what I have to finish, but I told him not to tell me because I didn’t want to know. I’m just trying to keep doing birdies. “
Meadow goes a different way. “Relax and pray I don’t have to go to the Q-Series,” she said of her plans. “But it is so. I’ll do my best and then enjoy the off-season with my fiance and pooch and do a little work. Hopefully I’ll have a much better year next year. “