Wide Open Race for 2010 LPGA Cards on Futures Tour

By: Dave Andrews

Mina Harigae

They are seven tournaments into their 17-event season and it's still anyone's guess as to which 10 players on the Duramed Futures Tour will earn their LPGA Tour cards for next year. The top 10 money earners at the end of the tour's season will gain automatic entry onto the LPGA in 2010, with the top five earning what amounts to full-time playing status.

The sixth through 10th finishers get a lower priority status in the LPGA that makes them eligible for only a few events. The ultimate goal for every Futures Tour player is making the top five on the money list at the end of the season.

With the conclusion of last weekend's event in Marion, Iowa, seven players have now walked away with victories in the season's first seven events. The Iowa winner, rookie Mina Harigea of Monterey, Calif., now stands atop the tour's money list with $34,301. The 19-year-old has performed the most consistently through the first seven events, and at this point is the most likely player to be heading to the LPGA next season.

Here's a list of the winners in the tour's first seven tournaments:

Jean Reynolds (Newnan, Ga.) - Florida's Natural Growers Charity Classic
Misun Cho (Cheongju, South Korea) - Impact Invitational
Samantha Richdale (Kelowna, B.C.) - Louisiana Pelican Classic
Angela Buzminski (Oshawa, Ontario) - Historic Brownsville Open
Allison Hanna-Williams (Portland, Ore.) - Texas Hill Country Classic
Elisa Serramia (Barcelona, Spain) - Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City Championship
Mina Harigae (Monterey, Calif.) - Ladies Titan Tire Challenge

Last year after eight events, rookies Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., and Mindy Kim of Diamond Bar, Calif., had each won two tournaments. They finished first and second on the money list at the end of 2008, and are both are now playing fulltime on the LPGA. Hurst set an all-time single season earnings record in 2008 with four victories, winning more than $93,000. Kim won three events in 2008, earning just over $79,000.

The Futures Tour is back in action this week with 144 players from around the world coming to Decatur, Ill., for the $125,000 Michelob ULTRA Duramed FUTURES Player Championship. The winner will walk away with $17,500 and place herself in contention for a top 10 finish at the end of the season. The tour's schedule will conclude in early September in Albany, N.Y.

Here is the list of the current top 10 money winners on the Futures Tour's 2009 schedule.

1. Mina Harigae (Monterey, California) $34,301
2. Jean Reynolds (Newnan, Georgia) $28,244
3. Misun Cho (Cheongju, South Korea) $25,451
4. Christine Song (Fullerton, California) $23,440
5. Samantha Richdale (Kelowna, B.C.) $22,805
6. Angela Buzminski (Oshawa, Ontario) $22,678
7. Elisa Serramia (Barcelona, Spain) $19,215
8. Allison Hanna-Williams (Portland, Or.) $18,896
9. Alison Walshe (Westford, Massachusetts) $18,445
10. Danah Ford (Indianapolis, Indiana) $15,949

Dave Andrews is a Harvard-educated former television news reporter. He's also an avid golfer who has become a fan of the Duramed Futures Tour. His home course in Concord, N.H., is annually the site of one of the tour's events. The inspiration for Dave's 2007 novel, "Pops and Sunshine," came from meeting many of the young aspiring women golfers on that tour. Each of them has a passion, dedication and determination that he finds remarkable. His novel is a fictionalization of the dream that these young women share. To order Dave's book, visit http://popsandsunshine.com.