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For Gleason, Futures is the focus now
The Futures Tour is a path to the LPGA
By Bob Harig,Times Staff Writer
Published March 15, 2007
It is not about the glory, and certainly not the money. Playing on the Futures Tour is a means to an end, a place to hone skills and make a few pennies to get by.
There is one huge perk, however.
A spot on the LPGA Tour.
The five top money earners through the 2007 season earn full exempt status on the 2008 LPGA Tour. And even though this week's Greater Tampa Classic is just the second event of the season, the thought of earning enough money to graduate to the LPGA is at least in the back of everyone's mind.
Two years ago, Clearwater's Jenny Gleason finished sixth, missing a full-exempt card by a few hundred dollars. That meant a return to the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, where she gained conditional status, limiting her access.
Gleason, 26, has conditional status again this year, but her focus is on the Futures, which, uh, will better dictate her future.
"There is no one who is too good for the Futures Tour," said Gleason, who tied for ninth ($1,240) in last weekend's season-opening event in Lakeland. "The depth and competition is so much better. The money is going up. It's not even close to the LPGA, but it's not supposed to be. It's a developmental tour."
The purse this week is $75,000, with $10,500 to the winner and $7,500 for the runnerup. Without a top-10 finish, a player is probably losing money.
And it can be a bit lonely at times, playing before sparse crowds.
"It's disappointing that people don't come out," Gleason said. "A lot of people don't know what the Futures Tour is. But I'm really excited about it. I had some success on the Hooters Tour in January and February, a good winter. I've done a whole bunch of things to take it to the next level. I've got a new set of irons. I've switched coaches (Lew Smither at Innisbrook). I've got a new trainer and I'm seeing results, which is nice."
Gleason, who won twice in 2005, has one goal: avoid Q-School and become fully exempt on the LPGA.
"Obviously I want to get off to a hot start in Florida and see what happens," she said. "I will try to put myself in contention every week and that's all I can ask for."