Record-breaking LPGA season tees off
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Swiss rising star Albane Valenzuela has announced on Instagram that she intends to turn professional immediately and begin her career on the LPGA Tour early in 2020.
The talented 21-year-old, currently the No. 2-ranked amateur in the world, said she will now pursue her dream of playing on Tour and returning to the Olympics.
The Stanford University senior earned her LPGA status for the 2020 season after finishing T-6 at the 2019 LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst.
“As a result of the opportunities that were given to me through my Q-Series (finish) and the possibility of returning to the Olympics, I am thrilled to start a new chapter in my life and pursue my longtime aspiration of playing on Tour,” she wrote.
Valenzuela represented Switzerland at the 2016 Olympics in Rio where she tied 21st. Currently No. 426 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, she hopes her new LPGA status will make it easier to join the field of 60 players for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“My decision does not come from a place that I wanted to stop college golf,” added Valenzuela. “It was more about me and my aspirations as a professional golfer. My dream of going back to the Olympics.”
She will now leave the Stanford Cardinal program midseason, foregoing her final semester of college in order to assume her spot on the LPGA next year. She now plans to complete her degree in the spring.
She is studying for a political science and communication degree at Stanford, the California university which counts Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie among its golfing alumni.
Born in New York City, she spent her early childhood in Mexico before the Valenzuela family relocated to Geneva in Switzerland for 15 years. She joined Stanford after returning to the US as a teenager.
She enjoyed a decorated career while at Stanford. She was a first-team All-American as a junior and won the 2017 NCAA Albuquerque Regional and the 2019 Pacific 12 Conference Championship.
Among her eight victories as an amateur, Valenzuela captured the 2014 Swiss International Championship, the 2014 Bulgarian Amateur Open and the 2015 Spanish International Amateur Stroke Play Championship. She has also posted three top-10 finishes on the Ladies European Tour, including fourth at the 2016 Tipsport Golf Masters.
She also finished second at the 2017 and 2019 US Amateurs, finished as low amateur at the 2016 ANA Inspiration and low amateur at the 2019 Evian Championship – two of the five Majors championships of women’s golf.
It’s a big step up to the pro game, but Valenzuela will now be looking to transfer her promising amateur form to the paid ranks.