Out of Bounds: Stephanie Meadow’s journey is an example to us all
Meadow heads to final tournament of the season assured of her full LPGA Tour card
Stephanie Meadow has already secured her full LPGA Tour card. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Out of heartache and hearbreak there can sometimes be found a shining light and, in a lot of ways, the journey taken by Stephanie Meadow is an example to us all.
Hers is a story that encapsulates so many different traits, but the one of perseverance is so much part and parcel of who she is.
This week’s Symetra Tour Championship is the final tournament of the season, after which 10 players walk away with full LPGA Tour cards. Meadow - who has played in every single tournament this season - heads into the finale at Jones Course in Daytona Beach, Florida, assured of one of them.
It is a fantastic achievement, especially considering what she has come through in the past few years. Remember, this is a player who broke through onto the professional ranks in spectacular fashion when finishing third behind Michelle Wie in the 2014 US Women’s Open at Pinehurst (bizarrely, the money didn’t count on the official money list) and, then, suffered personal tragedy the following May when her father, Robert, passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
Robert, a familiar face at many ILGU championships from junior to senior as Stephanie represented Ireland, was her inspiration and his death affected her deeply.
In her rookie year on the LPGA Tour in 2015, Stephanie had received word of her father’s diagnosis on the eve of the season-opening Coates Championship and she would take three months off to help support him. Later that year, her peers on tour voted her the recipient of the Heather Farr Perseverance Award, which honours an LPGA player who, through hard work, dedication and love of the game, has demonstrated determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals.
Further struggles, however, lay ahead; and, last year, Stephanie suffered a stress fracture to her lower back. When she went to get a medical exemption, it was too late to regain even partial status . . . and, so, Meadow’s journey took her to mini-tour events in the desert to get tournament sharp again and then onto the Symetra Tour, the path back to the LPGA Tour.
The success of that journey is that - ranked fourth in the order of merit, with eight top-10s in her 19 outings including one win - Meadow’s status on the LPGA Tour for the 2019 season is already guaranteed.
Conceivably, if the stars align, Meadow could even top the Syemtra Tour money list if she were to win the 72-holes Tour Championship (with a $33,750 to the winner), which is limited to 108 players. No matter what happens, the perseverance which was rewarded with the Heather Farr award in her fledgling professional career has again proved a powerful attribute.
*Leona Maguire - who turned professional midseason - is also competing in the Symetra Tour Championship, which runs Thursday to Sunday. The Co Cavan golfer currently lies 34th in the order of merit and has an outside chance of leapfrogging her way into the top-10 who secure full LPGA Tour cards, although she would most likely require a win to make the leap. A more realistic target for Maguire is to move from 34th into the area (those finishing 11th to 30th) who move straight into the LPGA Tour final qualifying school.