With the LPGA Tour and second-tier Symetra Tour in the midst of a season wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, all players will retain their current status for 2021.
That was the ruling announced Wednesday by LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.
The annual fall qualifying series has been canceled, as there will be no spots for rookies to fill next year with no one losing status from the top tour. Players still will be able to improve their exemption status by winning tournaments.
“As we look to the remainder of our 2020 season and ahead to 2021, we wanted to make sure that the athletes who earned the opportunity to play on the LPGA tour for 2020 have that full-season opportunity in 2021,” Whan said.
The abbreviated 2020 season and the 2021 season will wind up being combined for eligibility purposes looking ahead to 2022.
“In this case, you can play ’20, you can win, you can come back from medicals, maternities, that kind of thing, but generally speaking outside of wins, you’ll likely be starting 2021 with your 2020 starting place,” Whan said.
He added that the decision to allow players to retain their status for next year was made in an attempt to prevent out-of-country competitors from feeling pressured to return to action quickly out of fear of losing their place.
“Regardless of how comfortable you are playing, regardless of whether or not you can get out of your home country because of travel restrictions, regardless of you live with your grandparents and they’re 82 and they’re asking you, ‘Please don’t go and come back,’ we allow you to play 2020 (with no risk of status for 2021),” Whan said.
The LPGA’s most recent event was the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, won by South Korea’s Inbee Park on Feb. 16. Nine tournament have been canceled due to the pandemic, with the tour now eyeing a return to action July 23-26 at the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.