Conditional status in a nice designation to have in theory, but it’s not something that Canada’s newest player on the LPGA Tour wanted to think about in the final weeks of the Duramed Futures Tour season.
Fewer events on the LPGA Tour season this year meant more full-time players in the fields in 2009, leaving little room for conditional players to get in, making the Futures Tour a more viable option.
It remains to be seen if the number of LPGA events increases in the near future with an economy that seems to be improving, but Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., didn’t want to take that chance.
Richdale finished fourth on the 2009 Futures Tour money list to earn her full-time card for 2010, but finishing sixth through 10th would have meant conditional status and a trip to qualifying school to try and upgrade to a full-time card.
“I didn’t really take the six through 10 into consideration,” said Richdale. “(Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont.) had that status from last year and she hasn’t really gotten into anything.
“I’m pretty happy with the full status,” she added. “I’m glad I got it through the Futures Tour and that I didn’t have to go to Q-school to get it there. It’s tough to play five straight days with such great competition.”
Richdale rose to the challenge in her quest for the top five, missing just one cut in 17 events and recording two wins, which were among nine top-10s, four of them in her last six tournaments, including a victory at the Turkey Hill Classic in Harrisburg, Penn., and a tie for third in the season finale in Albany, N.Y.
The win in Harrisburg put Richdale over the top and it came about a year after she won her first Futures Tour event, also in Pennsylvania at the 2008 Gettysburg Championship.
“It was just a special win,” she said. “I won in Pennsylvania last year and, although we didn’t return to that exact venue, it was nice to win there again. I had some nice fans from Gettysburg come and watch. It came at the best time of the year. It couldn’t have happened at a better time to win again.”
“It’s been kind of a stressful year,” she added. “It’s been a great year, but also it’s like an added stress playing well and then having the chance to get into the top five. I was pushing for that the whole year and it was nice to lock it up in Harrisburg and just be able to have fun.”
Richdale got her first taste of LPGA competition the following week when she got an exemption into the Safeway Classic in Oregon. It was there that she got a reminder that learning doesn’t stop once you get your card.
After shooting a first round 71, she stumbled in the middle of the second round when she put a shot into the water on the 10th hole and followed up with weak holes immediately afterwards to remind her about composure.
“I think, for the most part, I do a good job of it, but I think you have to burn yourself a few times before you learn. I just kind of thought maybe I’d get away with it this time and I definitely did not. I’ll definitely learn from that,” said Richdale, who tied for 65th.
Despite her stumble on the course, it was a special occasion with her parents driving down from Kelowna. “It was an eight-and-a-half hour drive for them. My great aunt and uncle came out and surprised me also, so it was a pretty fun tournament,” she said.
It was also a family affair as she finished off the Futures Tour season at the ILoveNY tournament in Albany the following week as her parents were there again, not only to see her tie for third, but also receive her full-time LPGA Tour card.
“This is the first time they’ve seen two tournaments in one year, so we’re doing pretty good this year,” said Richdale of most playing in the east with her parents in B.C.
“It was just nice to have them come and be part of such a big day,” she said. “My parents have been such great supporters of my golf and my career and so, it was nice to have them there to celebrate such a big milestone in my career.”
Richdale played in the LPGA Tour’s P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship last weekend, when she missed the cut, and she will try to qualify for next week’s LPGA Challenge in California.
Then, it’s a little more family time, with her brother, who travels with the RCMP Musical Ride, expect home for Thanksgiving.
“I’ve booked a ticket home,” she said. “I’m going to go home for a couple of weeks and spend Thanksgiving with my family.”
There’s a lot to be thankful for this year.