Jennifer Hahn stood on the tee of her 90th and final hole at LPGA Stage III Qualifying School Dec. 3 facing arguably the toughest drive of the day. To earn her 2018 playing privileges, Hahn had to overcome the intimidating visual of a water hazard left and tons of trouble right.
The moment embodied the stress of Q-School. A misfire in either direction would greatly endanger the Vanderbilt graduate from getting her LPGA rookie card. As she prepared for the critical shot, Hahn did what many of us would.
"I just said a quick prayer to myself and hit it perfectly to the middle of the fairway. It was maybe my best drive of the day," Hahn said.
The drama, developed while advancing through three grueling Q-School stages, was far from over. Two shots later, after running a 20-foot putt past the hole, Hahn stood over a downhill four-footer, her dad/Q-School caddy standing close by and her mom watching from just off the green.
"I said another quick prayer," Hahn said, who promptly dropped the critical par putt into the hole. "It was just a relief. I just looked at mom because it was very stressful for her. And then I ran to hug my dad."
Hahn's 1-over total of 361 over five days of competition performance resulted in a 32nd place tie and more importantly, conditional status for the 2018 LPGA Tour. She will be the fourth former Commodore on tour next year, joining Marina Alex, Jacqui Concolino and Simin Feng.
Amazingly, Hahn became just one of seven players to earn LPGA status by advancing through all three stages of qualifying school.
Commodore Head Coach Greg Allen, who spent time in late October helping Hahn prep for the final stage at Vanderbilt Legends Club, is delighted for his former standout's success.
"I'm so happy and fired up for Jenn and the opportunities that lie before her," Allen said. "Jenn's probably one of the most talented players I've ever had the privilege of coaching. She has a great golf swing, a very confident putting stroke and the ability to make a ton of birdies. She possesses the abilities to succeed on the (LPGA) tour.
"Besides her parents and grandparents, I'm Jenn's biggest fan. She became one of my favorites from the first time she stepped on campus. Jenn's fun, outgoing personality can only benefit her on tour," Allen added.
The last six months have been both remarkable and memorable for Hahn, a Las Vegas resident who was a key contributor to Vanderbilt's 2014 SEC and NCAA Regional East championship team.
Hahn overcame a huge hurdle at Q-School Stage I in Palm Springs, Calif, where she finished 60th in a field of 361. The field included an abundance of European Tour members trying to win LPGA status in the United States.
Then, just days before Stage II began, tragedy struck her hometown when 58 concert goers were killed Oct. 1 in one of the worst mass shootings in American history. Two nights before the shootings, Hahn had attended an outdoor concert in downtown Las Vegas.
"Everybody at home was devastated. Nothing like that had ever happened in Las Vegas," Hahn said. "We made 200 black ribbons for all the (Stage II) golfers to wear, and a lot of them did. At the same time, I also really wanted to make Las Vegas proud because I was the only player from the area."
Hahn accomplished her goals at the Stage II competition in Venice, Fla., shooting a superb 4-under 284 to finish 13th in a field of 190. The result enabled Hahn to comfortably advance to the Q-School final stage.
Hahn had a rocky start at the Stage III event by shooting a 2-over 74. Then, facing high winds during the round 2, she produced a stellar 1-under 71, rising from 74th to 26th. Hahn ended up shooting even-par 72s in each of the last three rounds to maintain her position and secure the LPGA card.
Hahn has limited status entering the LPGA Tour, which starts Jan. 26-29 with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. She plans to compete in Monday qualifiers until expected openings come available in late spring.
Hahn will need to make the most of her early LPGA chances. Due to two scheduled reshuffling of player priority lists, tour officials reward LPGA rookies having early successes, giving them automatic access to more tournaments.
Cover photo credit: LPGA