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LPGA Tour golfers await release of 2011 tournament schedule

JANUARY 1, 2011, BOSTON GOLF EXAMINER - BY: EMILY KAY With the LPGA Tour set to unveil its 2011 calendar on January 6, even tour players have yet to get a peek at the events that await them in the coming year.

"The schedule hasn't come out yet. We have a general idea, but it won't be out until January," Boston golfer Alison Walshe said Wednesday. "Our general idea is the same as everybody else's."

Wait and see. Walshe, a Westford, Mass., native, who chatted with Boston Golf Examiner during a practice session with her long-time coach, acknowledged the difficulties that the late delivery of the schedule posed for players. "It's really hard to make plans," said Walshe, who will split her sophomore professional season between the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour, on which she has full status. "I'll just have to wait to make my travel plans until it comes out."

Walshe, effortlessly snapping seven iron after seven iron into a net inside the Tyngsboro, Mass.-based Seth Dichard Golf School, shed some light on why nine players received low-level eligibility after failing to make the top 40 at qualifying school. She and several other golfers had playing status but entered Q-school to try to better their positions for 2011 events. Walshe was one of nine players who did not move up.

No status change. "I finished 26th [at Q-school] and had to finish inside the top 15 to [improve my] status," Walshe said. With eight other golfers in similar positions, the LPGA had Category 20 spots to offer nine players who otherwise would not be eligible for limited play in 2011. The category level requires golfers to enter Monday qualifiers for any chance to play in tour events.

"After reviewing the final results from the 2010 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, we decided that there was an opportunity to create a few more playing opportunities than we had accounted for in category #20 on the LPGA Priority List," according to a December 22 LPGA statement. "Although category 20 is not necessarily an opportunity to play in a large number of LPGA tournaments, it does give the players an opportunity to Monday qualify and, if they qualify, the ability to earn official money on the LPGA Tour."

The problem, Walshe surmised, was not with the tour's decision, but with the after-the-fact modification to the rule.

Change for the better. "In the past, they've never filled those spots in," said Walshe, who supported the alteration but recognized why others were miffed. "They changed it for the better but what they did wrong was change it afterward."

Better late than never, suggested Walshe, who could have beefed about not being eligible earlier in her career. "My very first year at Q-school I would have had my card [under the changed rule] because I finished one out," she said. "But I don't care. They have to start somewhere."

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