BARRIE, Ont. - It looks like Stephanie Sherlock has already picked up her Christmas gift, courtesy of the LPGA.
Sherlock, a Barrie native, fired an even-par 72 in the fifth and final round of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Florida to finish in a tie for 14th place, earning a spot on the elite women’s tour for 2011.
The top 20 players at the event received their LPGA Tour card for the upcoming season.
“It’s awesome,” Sherlock said. “I’m really excited and looking forward to next year. It just feels really good, and actually, I’m kind of relieved (to be able to get in).”
After firing three consecutive rounds of 74, things started to go right for Sherlock on the weekend.
“I was pretty close in those first three rounds, but I just hit a couple of bad shots,” said Sherlock, who put herself into contention with a four-under 68 on Saturday.
“The last two rounds, I played really well and didn’t make any mistakes. The putter was going well for me at the end there too, which really helped.”
Her combined score of 140 (or two under) over the last two rounds tied for the second-best 36-hole total over those two rounds amongst the field.
Despite the strong finish, she had to sit and wait for things to play out.
“It was pretty close there,” Sherlock said. “(The cut) was at plus two when I finished, so it was a long two hours of waiting.”
Had more than 20 players finished at plus two or better, Sherlock and all of the players tied at two over would have had to take part in a playoff to see who would make the tour.
“We thought there was going to be a playoff, but it worked out evenly that there was exactly 20 girls who finished at plus two or better,” Sherlock said.
That worked out well, since it wasn’t exactly friendly skies out there.
“I was relieved, because it was pouring rain, and I did not want to have to go back out there,” laughed Sherlock.
With an LPGA Tour card to be issued to Sherlock, she’ll get access to most of the world’s top female golfing events.
“It’s really complicated, but with the LPGA Tour card, I get to play in all of the LPGA events, excluding some invitationals,” Sherlock said.
“Those are usually reserved for the top 70 golfers, but if you play well at the beginning of the year, you’ll get into some of those invitationals around the end of the year.”
No matter what the results, Sherlock still figures she will get access to about 12 or 13 of the 20 LPGA events in 2011.
Of course, just because you’re a Tour pro doesn’t mean you’re rolling in the dough quite yet.
“I’m looking for sponsors for the upcoming season,” Sherlock said. “Especially with my first full pro year, I’m going to need a lot of financial help.”
She’ll take sponsorship – or at least warm congratulations – when she returns to Barrie in a couple of weeks.
“I’m coming home for Christmas,” Sherlock said. “I’ll be home for two to three weeks, and then I’ll head back down to Florida to start working.”
Although she’s made the LPGA, at this point Sherlock says that she’ll start the season on the Futures Tour, a second-tier circuit that she qualified for earlier this fall.
“I’ll play there for my first couple of events at the end of February to get going,” Sherlock said. “Then, I’ll start up on the LPGA Tour some time in March.”