Text: Greg Johnson
Elizabeth Nagel of DeWitt, Michigan celebrated her 28th birthday two days after making it through LPGA qualifying to secure full status on tour with the top women golfers in the world.
“I believed in myself,” Nagel said. “Happy birthday to me.”
The former Michigan State University standout and 2018 Michigan Women’s Open Champion tied for 16th in the recent LPGA Q-Series qualifying tournament at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina to earn full status for 2020.
Nagel shot a closing 3-under par of 69 on Saturday Nov., 2, 2019 in the eighth and final round of the two-week qualifying for a 1-under par of 571 total. Players in the top 20 earn full status for the full-field tournaments on the 2020 LPGA Tour. The final round of the Q-Series, the current name of the qualifying for LPGA status, was played on Pinehurst’s ninth hole.
“Part of it was experience, part of it was knowing what to expect—which ties to experience—and part of it was playing well at the right time,” Nagel said. “It all kind of ties together. I know I can do it. I believe in myself. I know I’ve worked hard. I know I’m prepared. It was just time to put it all together.”
Nagel, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012 and is currently in remission, previously played on the LPGA Tour in 2015 and 2016 with limited status. Nagel also played in eight tournaments throughout the course of two seasons while battling a back injury in 2016, and finished 63rd in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open. This was her second time in the two-year, Q-Series format, eight-round finals and she said through the two weeks she did not look at a leaderboard.
“I knew it was a marathon and a grind, and even though it is a cliché, I really stayed in it one shot at a time,” Nagel said. “I ended up with over 500 shots. That’s a lot of shots and it comes down to staying in the moment.”
Nagel credited Paul Zanardo, her caddie in recent years, for his work through the two weeks, too.
“It was a really good team,” Nagel said. “I was playing well and we both knew I could do it. We stayed in the moment, we stayed confident and we pulled it off.”
Nagel, who won her 2018 Michigan Women’s Open title with a five-shot rally on the last day at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan, said work on her putting and short game since her last two years on tour has paid off.
“My scoring average is so much lower and that is a sign of consistency,” Nagel said. “I’m staying under par, making more birdies, more eagles, and more comfortable with playing that way.”
Nagel, who was part of three Big Ten championship teams in her days at Michigan State University, is not the only Spartan who earned significant tour status. Former Spartan Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn., tied for 20th.
Muni He of Chengdu, China shot under-par in every round of the LPGA Q-Series in winning medalist honors. She shot a final-round of 70 to finish the eight-round tournament at 21-under par.
Photos By Greg Johnson