Moriya Jutanugarn leads third-round at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament-Stage III

Photo Credit: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand tees off on the 11th hole during day two of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on February 17, 2012 in Chon Buri, Thailand.

LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
LPGA International- Champions & Legends Courses
Daytona Beach, Florida
Third-round Notes and Interviews
November 30, 2012

Results>>

Moriya Jutanugarn
Kelly Jacques
Stephanie Sherlock

Moriya Jutanugarn built on her lead at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament after she shot a bogey-free 3-under 69 in the third round. She heads into Saturday’s fourth round at 13-under par and six shots ahead of Japan’s Ayako Uehara. The Thailand native is the only player in the field this week to post three sub-70 rounds and carded 68-66-69 in her first three days of the five-round event.

“Everything’s going well, but not my putting,” said Jutanugarn. “The pins were tricky today. I didn’t really make putts. I had only three birdies and no bogeys. That’s good with no bogeys, but I didn’t make any putts.”

The 18-year old looked like she was going to have a break out day after starting birdie-birdie on her first two holes on the Legends Course but said several missed short birdie putts to follow held her back. She wouldn’t find her next birdie until the par 5 14th, and would be her last of the day. Heading into the fourth round with a six-shot lead, Jutanugarn said she never really had intention of winning this week.

“Just trying to do my best and play my best,” said Jutanugarn. “If you win or get 20th it’s the same thing. It’s a lot of pressure at qualifying. It’s different than the Open or something because there’s more at stake. I feel more nervous. You only have five days out of the year.”

2012 LPGA Tour rookies Lacey Agnew (Jonesboro, Ga.) and Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Toronto, Canada) are in a tie for third at 5-under par. A group of four players are tied for fifth at 4-under including second-year LPGA Tour member Stephanie Sherlock (Barrie, Ontario), Symetra Tour member Kelly Jacques (Longmont, Colo.), Norwegian amateur Marita Engzelius and former Ole Miss standout Haley Millsap (Memphis, Tenn).

 

Next generation: Moriya Jutanugarn and her younger sister, Ariya, have been dominating the junior and amateur circuits for years and have been categorized in the ‘next generation’ of women’s golf. Moriya played in her first LPGA tournament when she was 12 years old, Ariya as an 11-year old. With the likes of Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko earning wins on the LPGA Tour before their 18th birthdays, the face of women’s golf is starting to become younger and younger.

The elder Jutanugarn admits it will be nice to earn her way onto the LPGA, but knows that even with all of her high-level experience, the next step in her career will make her face many new challenges.

“It’s a really good chance for me,” said Jutanugarn. “Even though I’ve been playing golf for ten years, once you turn pro, it’s all new; you’re like a baby. I’ve had a lot of good experience in ten years but everything will be new. It will be cool.”

Jutanugarn, who played alongside Thompson when they were both amateurs, said she think it’s great to have such young talent on Tour and is looking forward to joining the group of young stars.

“It’s great because they have a new generation on Tour,” said Jutanugarn. “I used to play with Lexi a long time ago and she’s such a good player. I mean everyone on Tour is a great player but it’s a lot of fun to watch the young players do so well.”

 

A good decision: After an accomplished collegiate career and graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Kelly Jacques felt she would try to take her golf career to the next level. It was a no brainer, until she was faced with a harsh reality.

“After I graduated I decided to turn pro and I thought ‘I got this!’” said Jacques. “And I had no idea really how much money it cost to play. So probably after three events thought I really can’t afford this and went through all of my savings. So I got a full-time job at a chiropractor’s office back in Colorado and I was there for quite a few months.”

After spending some time in the office life, Jacques had an epiphany that push her back to the game she disappointedly left behind.

“It was probably in November that I started getting the bug and seeing myself swinging in the mirrors at work,” said Jacques. “And overnight I decided, I can’t do this I need to go back and play and at least give it a shot. So the next day, I moved down to Arizona and thankfully my boss was very supportive of that.”

She turned back to the Symetra Tour but didn’t play a full schedule until 2012. She would audition for Golf Channel’s Big Break at a Symetra Tour event in 2011 and was selected to be a contestant on Big Break: Ireland.

“At first, when you find out you’re going to be on the show, you’re overwhelmed with excitement and joy and then you get so deathly scared,” said Jacques. “You’re like ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to be on TV’ and if you hit a bad shot, it’s going to be shown to everybody. So it was really neat to be a part of that and to see how your game holds up under pressure.”

Jacques qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open this year and made her debut at an LPGA event at one of the schedule’s toughest events.

“I was so excited,” said Jacques. “It was my first LPGA event and it happened to be at the U.S. Open at a great course. And it was unbelievable. I’ve dreaming about that moment like all the girls out here forever and the first time to get on that stage. It was really exciting. It was a huge confidence booster. I didn’t play great but I shot two mid-70 rounds and I said you know, I can hang with these girls. A little more practice and I got this.”

She made nine starts on the Symetra Tour this season, posting three top-20 finishes and a season-best T11 at the Eagle Classic in Richmond, Va.

“I learned so much just being out there week to week, having to grind and being away from home. I learned so much on how much you really need to practice and how much you need to commit to your game.”

 

Quote of the Day: “Today, everything was solid but my putting was no, not solid. Yesterday my putting was a very good friend, but today no. We had a fight.” –Current leader Moriya Jutanugarn on her relationship with her putting. 

Of Note…Rolex Rankings No. 19 Chie Arimura of Japan shot even-par on Friday to keep her at 3-under for the week and in a tie for ninth… Four-time LET winner and 2011 European Solheim Cup Team member Mel Reid shot her first sub-par round of the week and finished the third round with a 1-under 71 and is currently T95 at 10-over par… Marita Engzelius of Norway continues to hold the top amateur spot after she carded 3-under 69 to improve to 4-under for the week. She’s tied for fifth with two rounds to play…2012 LPGA rookie Victoria Tanco of Argentina was disqualified for a missed tee time

 

MORIYA JUTANUGARN, -13

Do you feel more comfortable now that you’ve built a little bit of a lead?
I’m going to try to keep focused every day and play like today. And then the next day. That’s it. I just want to do hole by hole.

Anything other than the putting?
Today, everything was solid but my putting was no, not solid. Yesterday my putting was a very good friend, but today no. We had a fight.  I hit it close a bunch of times and missed. No three putts. I started birdie-birdie and had a good start today. The first hole I had 12 feet and the second I had about eight feet.

How’d you keep your focus during the stretch of missing all of your birdie opportunities?
I was trying to stay level. My putting is really it. I tried to keep focus and really not get mad because that’s when you lose it.  So after I missed like four feet, I try to laugh and say ‘it’s ok Moriya, go back to the putting green and work on it.’

How does it feel to have the opportunity to join a group of young stars on the LPGA?
It’s a really good chance for me. Even though I’ve been playing golf for ten years, once you turn pro, it’s all new; you’re like a baby. I’ve had a lot of good experience in ten years but everything will be new. It will be cool.

It’s great because they have a new generation on Tour. I used to play with Lexi a long time ago and she’s such a good player. I mean everyone on Tour is a great player but it’s a lot of fun to watch the young players do so well.

 

KELLY JACQUES, -4

It’s been a pretty steady week. It hasn’t really been stressful, nothing’s gone too wrong but nothing’s gone too well in my favor so just staying really steady. Hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of greens and when I don’t, thankfully making those up and downs.

Talk about your start as a professional. A little unconventional, you graduated from OU, played in a few professional tournaments but figured you couldn’t support it financially. Then went to work at a chiropractor’s office. Talk about that process and how you caught the bug and said ‘this is what I was meant to do.’
After I graduated I decided to turn pro and I thought ‘I got this!’ And I had no idea really how much money  it cost to play. So probably after three events thought I really can’t afford this and went through all of my savings. So I got a full-time job at a chiropractor’s office back in Colorado and I was there for quite a few months.

It was probably in November that I started getting the bug and seeing myself swinging in the mirrors at work. And overnight I decided, I can’t do this I need to go back and play and at least give it a shot. So the next day, I moved down to Arizona and thankfully my boss was very supportive of that.

Up until this past year, I haven’t really played in more than three or four events on the Symetra Tour each season so I wasn’t out there all that much and wasn’t learning any more than any other tournament. But this year, I finished out with eight tournaments and I learned so much just being out there week to week, having to grind and being away from home. I learned so much on how much you really need to practice and how much you need to commit to your game.

You qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open this year, how much did playing in that event do for your confidence?
It played a huge role. I was so excited. It was my first LPGA event and it happened to be at the U.S. Open at a great course. And it was unbelievable. I’ve dreaming about that moment like all the girls out here forever and the first time to get on that stage. It was really exciting. It was a huge confidence booster. I didn’t play great but I shot two mid-70 rounds and I said you know, I can hang with these girls. A little more practice and I got this.

I wasn’t necessarily star struck because you see yourself playing with those girls but probably the coolest moment was realizing that all of your hard word was starting to pay off and that you’re moving in the right direction.

You were a contestant on the Big Break: Ireland. What was that like and how did that play a role in how you got to this point?
It’s really cool. At first, when you find out you’re going to be on the show, you’re overwhelmed with excitement and joy and then you get so deathly scared. You’re like ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to be on TV’ and if you hit a bad shot, it’s going to be shown to everybody. So it was really neat to be a part of that and to see how your game holds up under pressure. Being a big break alum is huge. It’s like a built-in family.

 

STEPHANIE SHERLOCK, -4

I’ve been hitting it really well. I’m hitting lots of greens in regulation and giving myself a lot of birdie opportunities. And have had some fun in the first three days.

This is your third time at Q School and you sort of know what to expect, what was your game plan this year.
It’s a long week. It’s a grind. You’ve just play on round at a time, hit one shot at time and try to work around the course as best you can. You gotta stay patient. You’re going to have some good holes and some bad holes. Just keep plugging along, slow a steady.

Coming from Ontario, how’d you decide on University of Denver?
I started a little but later than most people so I didn’t really get all that recruited that well. But I went out to Denver for a visit and really liked the coaches and the team and really like the city as well. I loved that I made that choice. I had an awesome experience. We were pretty good. We were up in the top 10 a couple of years.

What did four years of college do for your development and making your decision to turn pro easier?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I was kind of a no brainer going to school because I may have wanted to pursue more education or get a job after. I didn’t know I wanted to play pro golf. I progressively got better every year and figured I might as well give it a go. So for me, my goal was to graduate while I was there. So it was easier than most.

Was there a certain moment you thought to turn pro or was there a process to it?
Just before my sophomore year I won the Canadian Amateur which was cool. And then I had a really good college sophomore year and our team did really well. I started playing with some better players and meeting a lot more people and seeing a lot more players and what they do.  and I thought maybe I could hang with them one day. Keep working on it. So I decided to give it a go and it’s work out pretty well so far.

Talk about being a Canadian and seeing the number of Canadian pros growing and Canadian players doing well and what it means to represent Canada as well as your thoughts on the state of the Canadian’s women’s game.
Golf Canada is doing a lot to grow the game and we have a lot of names out there. Just no one’s really getting close enough. We have a lot of people in the mix every year and pretty soon someone’s going to break through whether it’s me, Maude or Jen. There’s a lot of players up and coming; it should be an interesting couple of years.

It was your second year on Tour this year, talk about the transition of coming out of four years of college, then your rookie year and now your second. What were some lessons and difficulties that you came across.
It was kind of cool to be by yourself and making your own travel arrangements and go out to dinner where you want to go and do your own thing. But you also miss that team atmosphere that’s so fun. I had a blast and we had a lot of fun. It’s a little more intense out here. You’re much more focused on golf and plugging away. Here, it’s more serious and intense and you’re doing your own thing. Both are unique and fun.

What was the biggest obstacle in your second year?
I struggled this year with my golf swing in general. It was a tough go there for a while. We were struggling hitting greens and couldn’t do much. So I stepped away from it for a month or so and just practiced and get my swing back. And it seems to have paid off because I’m playing much better now. Sometimes you just have to do that.

Topics: LPGA Qualifying Tournament

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