Vargas Emerges As Medalist At LPGA Sectional Qualifying
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Sept. 17, 2010 – Eileen Vargas produced four steady days of golf in the desert heat to emerge as medalist in today’s final round of the LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Vargas carded rounds of 69-69-69-71 to finish at 10-under 278, one shot better than newly turned professional Sydnee Michaels. Michaels, a recent UCLA grad, posted rounds of 73-70-68-68 to jump from a tie for fourth after three days to solo second today at 9-under 279.
“My goal was to have rounds under par every day, so I’m happy that everything came together,” said Vargas, 25, of Ibague, Colombia. “And I’m very pleased that my putting was really, really good this week.”
Vargas played the front nine holes today on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club at even par. On the back, she rolled in a four-foot birdie on No. 11, but gave it back with a bogey on the 13th hole with what she called a “good bogey save” from 12 feet.
The Colombian striped a 7-iron from 160 yards to three feet for birdie on No. 16, but again gave it back when she missed the green to the right on the par-three 17th hole for bogey.
Vargas had birdied No. 18 in Thursday’s third round and was hoping for a repeat conclusion today on the par-5 finishing hole. But today, her second shot sailed into a left fairway bunker. The former Pepperdine University collegian could have bumped her bunker shot safely back into the fairway, but instead, she opted for a 9-iron from the sand for the 117-yard shot and landed it to 14 feet from the flagstick. Vargas drained the putt for birdie on her last hole.
“I was pretty pumped up after that third shot because it was a pressure shot,” said Vargas, who just completed her second full season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. “It’s definitely a good feeling to win a tournament. I’ve done it many times as an amateur, but this was my first time as a professional.”
Michaels, who took her final exam on Monday at UCLA, and then drove back to the desert for Tuesday’s first round, played the last two days of this week’s sectional at 8-under par. She carded seven birdies and three bogeys today, but three-putted the 18th green for bogey with a downhill 30-foot putt and a lip-out for par from four feet.
“I gave myself a chance to win and I was very steady this week,” said Michaels, 22, of Temecula, Calif., who was a two-time winner and two-time All-American while at UCLA. “But I qualified [for the final stage]. That was the goal.”
Rookie professional Erica Moston (72) of Belmont, Calif., who led for the first 36 holes, finished third at 8-under 280, while Kathleen Ekey (68) of Sharon Township, Ohio, and Sarah Brown (70) of Lopatcong Township, N.J., tied for fourth at 7-under 281.
Amateur Jessica Korda (73) of Bradenton, Fla., dropped from third place after three rounds into a tie for sixth at 6-under 282 alongside Ayaka Kaneko (71) of Honolulu, Hawaii.
The qualifier was held on both the Arnold Palmer and the Dinah Shore courses at Mission Hills Country Club, home to the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The top 30 finishers from this week’s qualifier, along with top-30 qualifiers from the Florida sectional in two weeks, will move on to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
Both groups of sectional qualifiers will be joined at the final stage of LPGA Q-School by current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their status for 2011, along with the players finishing sixth through 10th, plus the next 10 non-LPGA members on the 2010 Duramed FUTURES Tour’s season-ending money list.
This week’s California sectional was the first of two sectional Q-Schools to determine the field of the LPGA’s Final Qualifying Tournament. The Florida sectional tournament will be held Sept. 28 through October 1, in Venice, Fla., on the Panther and Bobcat courses at Plantation Golf and Country Club.
The LPGA’s Final Q-School, set for Dec. 8-12, at LPGA International on the Champions and Legends courses in Daytona Beach, Fla., will be contested over 90 holes. A tournament cut will be made after 72 holes to the low 70 and ties at the final stage of qualifying. Players earning LPGA membership for 2011 will be determined at the final Q-school.