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USC signee Bailey Shoemaker among amateurs at second stage of LPGA Q-School

Nearly 180 competitors will tee it up in second stage of LPGA Q-School, which begins Thursday at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida.

Among the entrants are several familiar names on the pro side, including Haley Moore, Kristen Gillman, Mariah Stackhouse, Beatrice Wallin, Brooke Matthews, Bobbi Stricker and Hou sisters, Yu-Sang and Vivian. There are also 37 amateurs in the field, including 13 current college golfers: Oregon’s Cynthia Lu, Texas’ Sophie Guo, Georgia’s Jenny Bae, Michigan’s Ashley Lau, Florida State’s Amelia Williamson, SMU’s Michelle Zhang, UCF’s Tunrada Piddon, Texas Tech’s Shannon Tan, Virginia’s Riley Smyth, Michigan State’s Valery Plata and Houston teammates Delaney Martin and Annie Kim.

Miami’s Nataliya Guseva, Coastal Carolina’s Tiffany Arafi, Cal’s Annika Borrelli, Seattle’s Samantha Bruce, Wisconsin’s Emily Lauterbach, Furman’s Sarah-Eve Rheaume and Arkansas State’s Olivia Schmidt are the other collegians at second stage.

Another amateur is a future college player, 17-year-old Bailey Shoemaker, who signed her national letter of intent with USC last week as’s top-ranked player in the Class of 2023.

Shoemaker is ranked No. 61 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and earlier this year won the Florida Women’s Amateur. She also reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur and teamed with Alabama signee Kaitlyn Schroeder to finish runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball this past summer. And in each of her two pro starts this summer, the U.S. Women’s Open and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, she made the cut.

New Q-School rules still allow amateurs to compete at first and second stages. However, should players qualify for Q-Series, LPGA Q-School’s two-week final stage, they must now turn professional to compete. Amateurs can still take advantage of the Epson Tour status they acquire at second stage and play that tour as an amateur the following season. Any points earned as an amateur on the Epson Tour will count toward a player’s season total if that player turns pro at any point in the season.

Shoemaker said she has no plans to turn professional this year, even if she advances out of second stage.

“When I signed up for Q-School, it was just for experience, and I thought it’d help me be a better college golfer and it’d be a good experience if I have to do Q-School one day,” she told Golf Channel. “I know it’s such a hard grind out there and very taxing, so I thought the more chances I have at it, the better I’ll do later on. You’re playing some ex-college players and a few pros that have been bouncing on and off the LPGA and Epson tours, so it’s just great practice, and I’m excited to get going.”

It’s unknown if any of the college players would enter Q-Series if qualified, though entering the fall, it was expected that Lu, Lau and Williamson would be among those who would remain amateur and return to school for the spring semester.

Second stage was initially scheduled for Oct. 18-21, but after Hurricane Ian devastated much of Florida’s southwest coast, the LPGA opted to push it back. Plantation Golf and Country Club is located about 50 miles north of Cayo Costa, where Ian made landfall on Sept. 28 as a Category-4 storm, and sustained a fair amount of damage, from downed trees to washed-out bunkers.