Successful year for Stephanie Meadow takes her to LPGA event
Northern Irish golfer jumps 62 places in the updated world rankings – up to 126th spot
Stephanie Meadow: ‘It’s not just me, there’s a huge team behind me.’ File photograph: Getty
All through the year, the journey’s destination point – the when and where of it – was uncertain; except, now, Stephanie Meadow knows that it will definitely take her all the way to the LPGA Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, next month. That alone makes it a successful year for the 28-year-old, for only the tour’s leading players off the order of merit make it that far.
“Gosh, at one point in the year I didn’t know if I was going to get into this event,” said Meadow of the Pelican Championship, where she manufactured a season’s-best finish of third, behind Sei Young Kim. “Things have been so fluctuating, [you] think your season is over until March or end of February and, then, all of a sudden, you get two more at least, which is great.”
Meadow’s top-10 finish in the Pelican Championship earned her a place in the upcoming Volunteers of America Championship in Dallas (she was previously third on the reserve list) and, even more importantly, also guaranteed her place in the season-ending CME Globe Tour Championship which I confined to the leading 60 players on the merit list. Meadow jumped to 35th (from 59th) following her third place finish.
With no tournament on the schedule this week due to the Thanksgiving celebrations stateside, Meadow – who jumped 62 places in the updated world rankings up to 126th spot – can take a little time out to recharge the batteries and get ready for the big-money late-season schedule that has materialised. “Just have a nice week at Thanksgiving, [then] get back on the grind,” she said.
“I’m really pleased, I think a lot of hard work is paying off. It’s not just me, there’s a huge team behind me. My fiance, Kyle. My coaches, Terry , Debby, my sports psych. Golf is one of those things where you always feel like you can do better, but I’m pretty satisfied with where I am right now . . . sometimes you get the confidence and you know you can do it, and you just have to keep the pedal to the metal basically,” said Meadow, from Jordanstown in Co Antrim.
Meadow had dropped to 245th in the world rankings at one point this year. But her upward trajectory has taken her to 126th and headed onwards to that event at the Volunteers of America in Dallas which has good memories, as she finished tied-ninth there last year which secured her full LPGA Tour card for 2020 and the disruptive season it turned out to be due to Covid-19.
Wild-card picks for Solheim Cup
But that upward trajectory in the world rankings will provide momentum heading on to 2021, which is an Olympics and Solheim Cup year. Meadow is assured of joining Leona Maguire on the Team Ireland ticket to Tokyo, while qualifying for the European team for the Solheim Cup has been restructured so that team captain Caitríona Matthew will have six wild-card picks to go with the four who qualify off the Rolex world rankings and two who make it from the Ladies European Tour points list.
That Solheim Cup is due to take place at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, and Meadow and Maguire will be looking to become the first Irish players to make the European team.
Originally, the qualifying system would have seen three players make it off the LET list and five from the Rolex rankings points list with four captain’s picks. The increase from four wild cards to six gives players a chance to impress Matthew. “We just felt with the players not playing as much, and all the schedules being up in the air, that it was just nice to do that and give a bit more options going forward next year,” said the Scot of the changes to qualifying.
Meadow’s third place finish in the Pelican Championship and upward movement in the world rankings will have put her on Matthew’s radar.