Milligan, TU’s Thomas advance in LPGA Tour qualifying

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Former University of Oklahoma golfer Kaitlin Milligan of Norman shot the round of the day to zoom into fourth place and the University of Tulsa’s Lilly Thomas finished a solid 21st as the 2023 LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament Stage II concluded last week at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla.

Of the 188 players in the field, 41 move on to LPGA Q-Series in Mobile, Ala. this November to compete for spots on the LPGA or Epson Tour in 2024.

The round of the day belonged to Milligan, who just finished up her second year on the Epson Tour. The 2023 season was not the one that Milligan hoped for as she finished 96th on the Official Money List, but she is now six rounds away from earning a spot on the LPGA Tour for 2024. Milligan ended Stage II with a 7-under, bogey-free 65 to finish in a tie for fourth. The Oklahoma native played the last 12 holes of the day in 6-under, and she now has a newfound confidence heading into LPGA Q-Series.

“It was good. I really just tried to keep it fairly simple. Just trying to hit a fairway, hit a green, really be where my feet are, and try not to overthink the score or what it was going to be or what I was at or anything like that,” said Milligan. “I think I did a really good job of doing that, and then add in some good ball striking and made a few putts.  It’s definitely been a grind like all year. I feel like this is kind of a weight lifted off my shoulders. Hopefully, I don’t have to grind too much more, just relax and play.”

Thomas had told TU coach Annie Young that she would turn professional if she made it to the final stage, which will be a blow for the rising Tulsa squad but hopefully the beginning of a successful pro career. Thomas is playing for the Hurricane in The Ally, a three-day tournament beginning today at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.

Thomas is a senior from Bentonville, Ark., who has 22 top-25 finishes and nine top-10 performances entering her final year. She has been a three-time all-conference selection.

Ingrid Lindblad led the way for the last three rounds at Stage II after posting a 5-under 67 in the final round to end her week as medalist at 18-under, but she will not be heading to LPGA Q-Series later this year. Amateurs are not permitted to compete at LPGA Q-Series, and Lindblad is a graduate student at Louisiana State University with plans to continue her collegiate career for one more year. The World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 is in no rush to turn professional and will enjoy her last year at LSU after an impressive showing at Stage II.

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Ken MacLeod

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