It’s time for a Futures Tour update. Since I last focused on the Future, the circuit has become an official division of the LPGA and the following ladies have asserted themselves as the Top 10 players on the developmental tour (previous ranking in parentheses):
1. Allison Fouch (1)
2. Mollie Fankhauser (4)
3. Emily Bastel (6)
4. Liz Janangelo (2)
5. Seo-Jae Lee (NR)
6. Brandi Jackson (NR)
7. Audra Burks (NR)
8. Violeta Retamoza (10)
9. Ha Na Chae (5)
10. Janell Howland (3)
Each of the top five players have won two events except Fankhauser, who hasn’t won yet but her other stats (first in scoring, fourth in money, seven Top 10s in nine starts) have her very near the top. At the moment, those same five are the Top 5 on the money list and in line for exempt status on the 2008 LPGA Tour, but Retamoza and Chae are very much in striking distance for one of those cards with five events remaining.
While the Futures Tour is officially called a “developmental tour”, it should be viewed more in the light as the “Triple-A” league of women’s golf. Just by looking at this Top 10 you can see a cross-section of what the tour is about. Six of these players range from ages 23 to 27. Those are the college grads who haven’t made the Big Show yet. The “young-uns” are the two Koreans, Chae (21) and Lee (turns 19 on August 15). Howland is a bit of a veteran at 29, but she isn’t the oldest.
Audra Burks is 40 years old. She joined the Futures Tour in 1990 (I don’t think it had that name in 1990) at age 24, after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. She played “Triple-A” for 10 years until in 1999, she finished third on the money list and earned exempt status onto the LPGA Tour. Every year since 2000, Audra has started at least 18 events on the big Tour with only marginal success. In 2001 she finished 63rd on the money list to regain full exempt status but every other year failed to make the Top 90 and either had to re-qualify at Q-School or stay high enough on the non-exempt list to make a reasonable number of tournaments. This year, Audra has only started four LPGA events with her best finish a T56 at the Corning Classic. On the Futures circuit, she is currently 13th on the money list and will only be able to make the Top 5 if she can win one of the remaining events. Here are those events:
Aug 3-5 USI Championship Concord, NH
Aug 10-12 Betty Puskar Golf Classic Morgantown, WV
Aug 17-19 Hunters Oak Golf Classic Queenstown, MD
Aug 24-26 Gettysburg Championship Gettysburg, PA
Sep 7-9 ILOVENY Championship Albany, NY
If any of these tournaments are in your vicinity, go check it out. More info can be found at the Futures Tour website.