Canada's Szeryk looks to keep LPGA Tour status heading into season's final full event
Maddie Szeryk feels like her game has turned a corner the last couple of weeks.
And that feeling has come at a good time as she prepares to tee it up at the final full-field event of the LPGA Tour’s 2023 schedule.
Szeryk, of London, Ont., currently sits 99th in the Race to CME Globe, the LPGA Tour’s season-long points list. The top 100 after this week's event — The Annika at Pelican Golf Club — will keep their LPGA Tour status for 2024.
Szeryk is currently 2.6 points ahead of Spain’s Azahara Munoz at No. 100.
"It's hard to make it bigger than it is, like, 'Oh, I have to play amazing.’ At the end of the day, I'm going to try to play my best and play as well as I can and wherever I end up is where I end up," Szeryk said by phone from Belleair, Fla.
"You don't know how the other girls are going to play. We could all finish top 10 and it could be super close. Or we could finish all over the board. I can only do my part and play as well as I can and see where I end up at the end of the week."
Szeryk is in her second full year on the LPGA Tour. Her best result of the season came in her first event, the LPGA Drive On Championship in March, where she finished tied for seventh.
The 27-year-old struggled through the summer, missing six of seven cuts from July until September. But she’s found the weekend in her last two tournaments and finished in a tie for 26th last month at the LPGA Shanghai tournament — her best result on tour in three months.
"Everyone gets on these little runs and it’s like, 'OK, any time now would be great (to turn things around)," Szeryk said. "I felt like a lot of those weeks I was close. I could see things were getting a little closer and then the last few weeks it finally clicked."
Szeryk says her comfort level this year has been "way higher" than 2022. Last year she had to return to the LPGA Tour’s qualifying school to earn full status again for 2023, a gruelling eight-round marathon with the top 45 and ties receiving their cards. Szeryk finished tied for 17th.
In speaking with other players on the LPGA Tour, she realized it takes about a year to feel comfortable with the travel and the logistics of women’s professional golf at the highest level.
"I've definitely had a better schedule and I know what I’m doing versus thinking about when I could play, what I should do, or where I should go," Szeryk said.
Szeryk has tried to keep things as similar as possible through the year in terms of her gear and preparation, although she said her and her longtime caddie (they had been together since July of last year) split after the she missed the cut at the Canadian Women’s Open in Vancouver.
Szeryk said she’s been struggling off the tee this year and sits 106th on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy. She was 57th in the same statistic last year.
"The last couple of weeks, most of the time when I made a bogey it was I was completely out of play," Szeryk said. “(This week) really going to make sure the big focus is getting my driver at least in play.
"I feel like I'm heading in the right direction which is always comforting and what you want to see."
Szeryk will be one of two Canadians in the field at The Annika, and the other one won’t be worrying about their position in the season-long standings.
Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., sits 14th in the points list and comes into the event after a tie for sixth at the Maybank Championship two weeks ago — her third top-10 of the year.
Henderson won the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions for her 13th LPGA Tour title.
The top 60 on the Race to CME Globe at the end of the week earn their way into the LPGA Tour’s season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship, where they will compete for the biggest prize in women’s golf — a US$7-million purse, with $2 million going to the winner.
The Annika begins Thursday at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair. World No. 6 Nelly Korda is the two-time defending champion.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2023.