Buried behind Sunday's thrilling Ryder Cup finale was the last 2012 event of the LPGA's developmental Symetra Tour (formerly the Futures circuit for once-a-year visitors), with the tour's top 10 money winners gaining LPGA Tour status for the 2013 season. And for the first time this year, all 10 will actually get regular starts on the LPGA circuit, for in the past, numbers one through five received Category 9 priority status (good enough to get into most any full-size field) while the lower five were relegated to Category 17 - a far more daunting scheduling proposition. Indeed, of the four players falling into this category a year ago (the fifth, Tiffany Joh, also finished among the LPGA's top 80 earners and thus enjoyed Category 1 status), Valentine Derrey made three 2012 LPGA starts, Hanna Kang seven, Jennifer Gleason seven and Tze-Chi Lin only four. Such inequity, however, will now be a thing of the past.
This year's first five are headed by former AJGA Player of the Year Esther Cho, an LPGA veteran who made only six Symetra starts this year but won two of them, claiming titles in Sarasota, FL and Nueva Vallarta, Mexico. Second place was claimed by 27-year-old Colombian Paola Moreno, a former All-American at USC who made 10 LPGA starts in 2011, finishing 136th in earnings. In third place was 20-year-old Dayton, OH native Victoria Elizabeth, a Symetra regular (including a 2012 win in Syracuse) since joining the tour in 2010. Fourth was Thailand's Thidapa Suwannapura, a 20-year-old ex-Asian junior and amateur star with a 2012 Symetra victory in Vidalia, GA, while fifth place fell to Daniela Iacobelli, the 2007 NCAA Division 2 champion at Florida Institute of Technology and a winner of the season-ending Daytona Beach Invitational.
The remaining five (in order of finish) are comprised of Mi Hyang Lee of Korea, American Jennifer Gleason (again), Australia's Julia Boland, American Nicole Smith and Canadian Sara-Maude Juneau.