Stephanie Kyriacou – one of Australian golf’s brightest prospects
A field of 110 players will take to the fairways of the Crossings and Falls Courses in Mobile in Alabama beginning on December 2nd as part of a two-step process to establish their right or otherwise to play the LPGA Tour in 2022.
The low 70 players at the completion of 72 holes on Sunday 30th will then advance to the second week to be played at Highland Park in Dothan, Alabama where the leading 45 are guaranteed LPGA Tour status next season.
All players who have made it into this week’s field are assured of at least Symetra Tour status in 2022 but clearly the goal is to be playing the Holy Grail of women’s golf, the LPGA Tour.
Four Australians have earnt their way into the field, namely former LPGA Tour players, Sarah Jane Smith and her fellow Queenslander, Robyn Choi, while for the Gold Coast’s Karis Davidson and Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou this week marks an important step in their elevations as professional golfers and an opportunity to play the LPGA Tour for the first time.
Smith finished her 2021 season in 151st place on the LPGA’s Race to the Globe points standing following a season where she made just five of 18 cuts and lost her full LPGA Tour status as a result.
The 37-year-old first played the LPGA Tour in 2008 after qualifying the previous year and although she has yet to win an event she did record a best finish of runner-up at the Kingsmill Championship in 2014.
Smith’s most significant performance however might well be when recording a 5th place finish at the 2018 US Women’s Open behind Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn at Shoal Creek in Alabama after leading by three through 36 holes.
Smith and her husband Duane recently had their first child, Theo Kai, born in 2019.
Robyn Choi played the Futures (Symetra Tour in 2021) but although she missed only two cuts in 20 starts, she did not do well enough to graduate to the LPGA Tour and must now face qualifying.
She has been through this process previously however having gained her 2019 LPGA Tour card in this manner.
Scottish born Gold Coaster, Karis Davidson, has played the Japan LPGA Tour since turning professional in late 2017 and has recorded eight top ten there in that highly competitive environment.
Davidson’s schedule has been disrupted in 2021 but she managed to play her way through Stage 11 qualifying to reach this week’s final and for that alone she deserves a lot of kudos. She now has the opportunity to take her game to the next level.
Stephanie Kyriacou has been a standout Australian on the Ladies European Tour since turning professional following her win as an amateur in an LET event in Bonville, Australia in early 2020.
In 2021 she won again on the Ladies European Tour and finished a very impressive 5th on their standings at year’s end earning the right to this week’s event.
So the four Australians represent an eclectic mix, two (Smith and Choi) having been there and done that while the other two are very progressive young golfers with potentially big futures ahead of them.
All four face very important weeks in their careers this week however.