1 year after costly self-reported penalty, pro gets redemption at LPGA Q-Series

Samantha Wagner hugs her mom after earning her LPGA Tour card through LPGA Q-Series on Sunday.

Samantha Wagner hugs her mom after earning her LPGA Tour card through the LPGA Q-Series on Sunday.

Getty Images

Samantha Wagner tried not to cry during the final round of the LPGA Q-Series on Sunday; she said she didn’t want to get ahead of herself.

Plus, she’s learned how quickly fates can change.

Wagner’s story is unique due to how she missed out on her LPGA Tour card last year. On the sixth hole of the first round of Q-Series she called a penalty on herself, was forced to add a stroke to her scorecard and eventually missed the first cut by just one stroke.

“I hit a good shot into the par-5 and I walked up, and I had my hands full,” she told EpsonTour.com earlier this year. “I had my yardage book and a tee to fix my ball mark and my caddie was waiting for me to throw him the ball. And I just picked it up. I literally had gotten six inches off the ground with it, and I was like, ‘Ah, shoot.’ I put it back down, marked it, no one had seen it. I knew right away it was wrong.”

Samantha Wagner chats with her caddie/dad during LPGA Q-Series.
Samantha Wagner chats with her caddie/dad during LPGA Q-Series. Getty Images

While her integrity was praised, she still had to deal with the sting of falling short of membership, which she’d been trying to secure since she turned pro in 2017.

So back to the Epson Tour Wagner went, where she made 16 of 20 cuts in 2022 and finished in the top-10 five times. This month she went back to the Q-Series with her eyes on the LPGA Tour once more.

And you know what? Even a one-stroke penalty wouldn’t have stopped her.

Wagner, 26, finished the eight-round Q-Series marathon in Alabama tied for 6th, her final two rounds 68 and 66. At 23 under, she easily secured category 14 status on the priority list, which was given to the top-20 finishers and provides more playing privileges than category 15 status that was handed out to those who placed 21st to 46th.

So yes, Wagner tried not to cry all day, to keep those emotions in check. But when she finally finished? Then she could let it fly.

“Quite a journey, and a hard one, too,” she said. “Just so thankful this week went really well.”

Her dad caddied for her all week, and during the final hole her mom was walking along in the gallery with Wagner’s brother on FaceTime. Wanger called it a group effort.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s just been a long journey. That’s what everyone here is working for. For me, I know I can compete there and I’m really excited to have the chance now.”

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.