Sept. 9, 2008
ALBANY, N.Y. - Former Lady Vol All-American golfer Jessica Shepley realized her dream on Sunday at the ILOVENY Championship at Capital Hills.
Shepley tied for 30th at the Duramed FUTURES Tour season finale to finish seventh overall on the regular season money list to earn her LPGA card for the 2009 season.
"It feels great," Shepley said. "I've been working and dreaming of this for a lot of years now."
Shepley recorded three consecutive 73s to card a six-over, 219 and collect $796 in the three-day tournament. She wraps up the season having made $37,705 in 17 tournaments.
The FUTURES Tour's top 10 players on the regular season-ending money list were each awarded 2009 LPGA membership at the conclusion of the 54-hole tournament on Sunday.
The top-five money winners earned Category 9 status on the LPGA's Priority list, while the next five players earned Category 17 Priority status.
The Ontario-native still plans on going to LPGA Qualifying School in Daytona Beach, Fla., in December to improve her status.
"My goals are more immediate right now," Shepley said. "I'm going to focus on Q-School, keep working on my short game and my swing, as well as becoming more confident on the course."
Shepley had a breakout season in her fourth year on the FUTURES Tour with five top-10 finishes in 17 events. Her best finish came in June at the Duramed Championship in Mason, Ohio, where she fired a 54-hole total of 205 to place second. She was also runner-up at the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City Championship in Leawood, Kan., in May.
At her last tournament before the ILOVENY Championship, the Gettysburg (Pa.) Championship on August 22-24, Shepley tied for third-place.
She opened the season by tying for sixth at the Bright House Networks Open in Lakeland, Fla., in March.
"I worked hard this off-season on getting where I need to be," Shepley said. "I had a great first event and from there (making the LPGA) has definitely been in my head."
The 2005 Tennessee graduate was a NGCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2004. She becomes the third Lady Vol to join the LPGA Tour, following Violeta Retamoza and former UT player and current volunteer assistant coach Young-A Yang.