Doughtie Earns Her 2013 LPGA Tour Card
Dec. 6, 2012
Many consider it the toughest competition that individual athletes can put themselves through in sports.
It’s not the Ironman Triathlon, Olympic decathlon or an ultra-marathon. It’s professional golf’s qualifying school. It’s five pressure-packed days that tests a golfer’s mental and physical abilities.
For five days each winter aspiring and veteran professional golfers try to either secure their first full-time ride on the LPGA or PGA tour or make their way back to golf’s top levels.
Former NC State women’s golfer Lauren Doughtie was able to successfully navigate the LPGA’s qualifying school last weekend to earn a spot on the women’s tour for the 2013 season.
Since graduating from NC State in 2009, Doughtie has been playing on the LPGA’s developmental circuit known as the Symetra Tour.
“It means a lot to me,” Doughtie said. “I’ve been working hard since I started at State in 2005 and playing there and in the ACC taught me to compete at a high level.”
Her road to the LPGA Tour got off to a rocky start with consecutive 74s in the first two rounds to put her at 4-over at the par 72, 6389-yard Champions Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
She rebounded with a third-round 71 to get back to 3-over par followed by a fourth-round 69 to get to even par before firing another 69 in the final round finish at 3-under par.
Adding to Doughtie’s pressure on Sunday was a seven-way playoff for the final four tour spots for next season. Fortunately for Doughtie, she was able draw upon her experiences at this past summer’s Lady Titan Tire Challenge in Marion, Iowa, which she won in a playoff.
In under the pressure of the playoff, she birdied two of the three-playoff holes to secure spot on tour for 2013.
“It was kind of nerve-racking,” Doughtie said. “I had won in a playoff, so I had that experience to rely on.”
Wolfpack coach Page Marsh applauded her former player’s accomplishment.
“I’m proud of Lauren's hard work in realizing her dream,” Marsh said. “She has always been passionate about the game of golf and always worked hard to reach her goals.”
Despite not having the Lonnie Poole Golf Course to hone during her collegiate playing career, Doughtie did praise NC State’s world-class short game facility for giving her a venue to practice a variety of other shots that helped her improve her all-around game.
The Suffolk, Va., native got her start in golf through her father, Mike, who took Lauren to the course with him. At 10, Doughtie became avid about the game.
When it came time to pick a college, NC State was at the top of her list. Growing up a State fan, Doughtie came to Raleigh to attend football games and visit her aunt and uncle who live in the area.
She made no doubts about her allegiances by committing to the Pack in July before her senior year of high school, selecting NC State over Virginia, Wake Forest and UNC Wilmington.
While at NC State, she earned back-to-back All-ACC honors in 2008 and 2009 and was a three-time team MVP (2007, 2008 and 2009). Doughtie captured the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Collegiate with 7-under par, 209 and helped the Wolfpack finish second in the team standings. She still holds the career stroke average at 75.53. Until last season, she held the program record for season stroke average of 74.35 when Augusta James eclipsed the mark with an average 74.14.
Doughtie also got a look at life on the LPGA Tour while still at NC State, qualifying for the 2008 U.S. Open prior to her senior year. Two days after earning a spot in the NCAA Championship, she fired a one-under 71 to take medalist honors at the Pinewild Country Club In Pinehurst to gain a spot in the Open field at the Interlachen Golf Course in Edina, Minn. She missed the cut after carding rounds of 78-87 in her first two rounds.
She got another opportunity, qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Again she missed the cut after rounds of 80-81.
In preparation for the next step in her golf career, Doughtie has reached out to friends who play on the LPGA Tour to get a sense of what to expect in her rookie season.
“They told me how things work,” she said. “They encouraged me to play hard, stay comfortable and not to put anymore pressure on myself.”
While Doughtie and her fellow tour members don’t know their first stop of the season will be, as the LPGA is still finalizing the 2013 schedule, she does know she’ll be a mixed bag of emotion for her first pro event.
“It’ll probably be surreal,” she said. “I’ll be excited and a little nervous when I get out there.”
If she can handle the rigors of qualifying school, there’s little doubt Doughtie will be able to handle the tests of her rookie campaign on the LPGA Tour.