Daytona Beach, Florida
December 9, 2010
Libby Smith Takes Lead At LPGA Final Qualifying After Two Rounds
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 9, 2010 – Seventh-year pro Libby Smith of Vermont grabbed the outright lead of the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament today, carding a 3-under 69 to take a two-shot lead at 8-under 136 after two rounds.
She leads Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand and Jimin Jeong of South Korea, who are tied for second at 6-under 138. A 13-time winner in Asia, Phatlum carded the day’s low round of 6-under 66 on the Champions Course at LPGA International. It was the second day of unseasonably cold weather with temperatures in the high 50s and pummeling winds.
“It feels good to play good golf and make some putts,” said Smith, 30, who has spent most of the last six years playing the LPGA Futures Tour with three years of partial status on the LPGA Tour. “It’s all about tempo for me and rolling my putts on the right lines. The greens are true here, and if you’re rolling them well, you’re rewarded.”
Playing today’s round on the Legends Course at LPGA International, Smith carded six birdies and three bogeys in a round that was highlighted by three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15. Known back home for her equal prowess as a basketball star at the University of Vermont, Smith drained a tricky downhill 10-footer for birdie on the 18th hole to take her lead to the locker room.
“I used to have that basketball mentality in golf and I’d come out here and shoot at every pin,” said Smith, who hit 13 greens in regulation today and rolled in 28 putts. “That was before I learned about reading putts from four sides of the hole and becoming more methodical around the greens.”
Jeong also needed only 28 putts today and said she leaned on her putter more today because of the relentless winds, carding a 3-under 69. Her round featured four birdies and a single bogey.
“My shots were not so good, but my putting was,” said Jeong, a third-year LPGA member and three-time winner on the LPGA Futures Tour. “I have been to the final stage of Q-school a few other times, but this year, I have more confidence in what I’m doing.”
Phatlum, a fifth-year pro who has spent the last two years competing on both the LPGA and Futures Tours, posted six top-five finishes this season on the Futures Tour. Most recently, she posted three more top-six finishes at two Ladies European Tour events in China and in India. Today, the Thai player known for her steady style of play, tallied seven birdies and one bogey with 26 putts.
“I played according to my plan today and my putter was good,” said Phatlum, 21, who finished 10th on the 2010 LPGA Futures Tour’s money list.
Aree Song of South Korea, played the Champions Course at even-par 72 today to move into fourth place alone at 5-under 139.
First-round co-leader Reilley Rankin (72) of South Carolina and Belen Mozo (72) of Spain, are tied for fifth at 4-under 140. Shasta Averyhardt (71) of Michigan and Mollie Fankhauser (71) of Ohio, share seventh place at 3-under 141.
Twelve players are under par after the second round, with a total of 20 players at even-par 144 or better.
A field of 120 players are in this week’s event, hoping to either earn membership or improve their current member status for the 2011 LPGA Tour. Sectional qualifiers, along with current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their status for 2011, are in the field. In addition, players finishing Nos. 6-10, and the next top 10 players on the 2010 LPGA Futures Tour money list (who do not already have LPGA status), are also in the field.
The five-round qualifier will cut to the low 70 players and ties after 72 holes. Those players making the cut will compete in the final round on the Champions Course.
The top 20 players at the conclusion of the event will earn Priority in Category 11. Players finishing in the 21s-30th spots will earn Priority in Category 16, followed by 31st-40th, who will receive Priority in Category 20. All category positions will be determined by a playoff.
To follow scores of these and other contestants throughout the week, visit LPGA.com. Daily wrap stories from the Florida sectional will be posted on both LPGA.com and duramedfuturestour.com.
First-round leaders still in striking distance
Libby Smith, Aree Song and Reilley Rankin found themselves atop the leaderboard after shooting first-round 67’s. Despite chilly temperatures and gusty winds, Smith’s putter remained hot as she went on to shoot a second-round 69 and take the solo lead heading into Friday’s third round. Song and Rankin still find themselves within striking distance of Smith after Song shot a second-round 72 and Rankin recorded a one-over par 73.
Mother Nature strikes again
The LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament has proven to be one of the most difficult tests in golf and the weather in Daytona Beach, Fla., is showing no sign of relief. Weather conditions deteriorated in the second round as temperatures reached a high of 57 and winds gusted to a howling 25 mph. When asked about the difficult playing conditions, amateur Jessica Korda, winner of the 2010 South Atlantic Amateur Championship (also known as The SALLY), said, “It seems pretty consistent every time I come to Daytona. It’s SALLY weather.”