MinJi Kang of the Truett McConnell University women’s golf team has successfully made it through stage 1 and stage 2 of LPGA Q-school and will be officially entering into her professional golfing career and playing on tour. This is a historical moment for the TMU women’s golf program with Kang being the first player to ever make it on tour professionally.
Kang was named the 2022 Women’s Golf NAIA National Champion back in May and will forever have a spot in TMU women’s golf history as the second ever individual athlete in the NAIA era to be named a national champion since the women’s basketball team was named national champions in 1980. The AAC Player of the Year currently holds three NAIA tournament records, the lowest score in an 18-hole round with a 66 and the lowest total in 36 holes with a 135 and crushed the 54-hole tournament mark which was set in 2018. Kang was named the first ever TMU women’s golf All-American, the NAIA Freshman of the Year, NAIA Player of the Year, 2021-2022 NAIA Ping WGCA National Player of the Year and 2021-2022 NAIA WGCA National Freshman of the Year. The reigning NAIA Women’s Golf National Champion broke multiple school records throughout the 2021-22 season, capable of setting a new one-day and two-day individual record and played a huge role in setting a new one-day, two-day and three-day overall team record.
Stage 1 of LPGA Q-school was held in California in August of 2022 with over 300 players competing for a chance to advance to the next stage. After 72 rigorous holes of golf, Kang finished five under par and inside the top 40 players to advance to stage 2, which was held in Venice, Florida. Stage 2 was originally expected to be held in October, but due to Hurricane Ian, the start date of the stage was pushed back to November. Rounds 1-4 were held November 17-20, which saw the top 45 golfers, including ties, move on to final qualification which is now called the Q-series.
The Q-series is newly stated as of 2022, and requires that amateur golfers declare they are professional prior to competing in the event. The old regulation permitted a college golfer to participate in the Q-series as an amateur. By virtue of Kang advancing from stage 2, she now has status on the Epson Tour, which is the official qualifying tour for the LPGA tour. More than 600 Epson Tour alumnae have earned LPGA membership, including Nelly Korda, Inbee Park and Laura Davies.
Kang will have the opportunity to advance straight to the LPGA tour in the upcoming Q-series, which will consist of eight rounds in consecutive weeks. The first four rounds will be held at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama on December 1-4, and the final four rounds will be held at Highland Oaks in Dothan, Alabama on December 8-11. Golfers finishing inside the top 45 and ties following the conclusion of the cumulative eight rounds of Q-series will receive LPGA tour status for 2023. Kang has already received Epson Tour status, which will allow her to compete in 24 tournaments with over $4 million in prize money. The top 10 players on the money list from the Epson Tour will also advance to the LPGA the following year.
Head Women’s Golf Coach Steve Patton has this to say, “Words cannot express how excited I am for MinJi and how proud I am of her! She was an incredible player, teammate, and person while she was here with us at TMU. She will continue to represent our TMU program with class, grace, and dignity while competing on the highest stage. Our team will continue to love, support, and pray for MinJi as she moves on to this new adventure. We love you MinJi and can’t wait to watch you chase your dreams!”
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