Jutanugarn takes the second-round lead at LPGA 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
Second-round Notes and Interviews

November 29, 2012

SECOND-ROUND RESULTS

Pressure tested
Not at least once, just once
All-American girls
Of Note…

LACEY AGNEW, -7
CHRISTINA KIM, -5 

Eighteen-year old Bangkok native Moriya Jutanugarn continued her solid play at LPGA International and shot a 6-under 66 to take a three-shot lead in the second round of LPGA Final Qualifying. The Thai teen followed up her first-round 68 with the low round of the tournament. She carded eight birdies and two bogeys to put her 10-under for the week. She's three strokes ahead of 2012 LPGA Tour rookie Lacey Agnew who shot 5-under in the second round and heads into Friday at 7-under par.

"Yea, eight birdies," said Jutanugarn with a smile. "I don't know how come. I'm serious."

The young player tends to undermine her ability but does a good job of keeping herself in check, with a field full of such talented players. She said at each stage of qualifying, she gets nervous off the first tee and has to work at calming her nerves.

"On the front nine, I did not feel comfortable," said Jutanugarn. "I just did not have the speed down on the greens. It's a little different from the other course."

She was 1-over through her first seven holes but seemed to figure it out by the time she made the turn.

"I had my moment on 18, where I went way left on my second shot but then stuck it to three feet for birdie," said Jutanugarn. "I said ‘ok Moriya, come back."

She carded four-consecutive birdies on Nos. 18, 1, 2 and 3 and held momentum to pick up three more before finishing out at 6-under.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Christina Kim turned things around after opening with an even-par 72 in Wednesday's first round and posted a bogey-free 5-under 67. She's currently in third and five off the lead. Former LPGA Tour member Kim Welch and Ayako Uehara of Japan are in the tie for fourth at 4-under.

Pressure tested: 2012 LPGA rookie Lacey Agnew knows what this week could come down to and how much pressure could be put on her, come Sunday's final round. The Jonesboro, Ga. native played in her first Q School last year and had a solid showing, finishing 20th which would get her full status on the LPGA Tour in 2012. The only problem was that eight other players were tied for that last spot for exempt status.

Lizette Salas would eventually win that final spot, birdieing all three holes of the playoff, but Agnew still had an LPGA Tour card in her hand at the end of the week. Having experienced such a tension-filled ending to an already stressful week, she knew it would help her prepare for this week to help retain her card for next season.

"I think knowing what happened last year and my game plan last year, I switched that up a little bit," said Agnew. "I just decided to stay a little more conservative in certain areas and fire at some pins when I can and see what happens."

Agnew had some rookie struggles in 2012 and split her time between the LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour. She made seven LPGA starts, made one cut and recorded a season-best T64 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. Asked what she learned in her first year on Tour, the former Florida State standout said she immediately began concentrating on her short game.

"One of the things I learned very quickly out there is that it's a putting game," said Agnew. "So that's what I worked on in the offseason. It was great experience. I was able to get in seven events. I learned to take your time and be patient and to play your game. Don't play the course, don't play the other players but play your strengths and at the end of the day if it boils down to you shooting a good score, that's what will happen."

Not at least once, just once: The consistently animated Christina Kim was in good spirits after her second round on Thursday at LPGA International and for good reason. She put together a bogey-free, five birdie round to put her in solo third after two rounds and in good position to finish out the week in the top-20.
 
Kim, a two-time LPGA winner and three-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member, had her worst season in her nine years on Tour and finished 110th on the LPGA Tour money list. She was forced to head to Q School for the first time in her career. She qualified for the Tour when she finished second on the Symetra Tour money list in 2002. The California native admitted to never even thinking about the possibility of Q School.

"When I was younger, after I got my card what is now the Symetra Tour, I had vowed that I would never have to go to Q School," said Kim. "And I would now say that no one should ever be that arrogant."

Coming to terms with the reality of fighting for her status on the LPGA, Kim has tried to embrace the situation as much as possible and has said it's humbling, something everyone should go through.

"But now that I'm here, it has a very unique atmosphere," said Kim. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that everyone should do at least once. Not at least, just once. Because it's different," she said with laugh.

"There are kids out here who are the same age I was when I was playing the Symetra Tour. You have the two Thai girls just killing it on the golf course, high ranked European players, girls just out of college," said Kim. "It's just this entire ecosystem that is unique and it can be fun if you allow it to be fun."

Kim said she had plenty of fun on Thursday on the Legends Course despite getting off to a slow start. She didn't get her first birdie until her seventh hole on the par 5 16th but turned things around on the front nine. She said she hit her groove after a great play on the second hole.

"It was after the birdie on the second hole because I had a very difficult, sort of awkward angled third shot of 55 yards down wind with this massive bunker short of it," said Kim. "I clipped it perfectly about eight feet short of the hole surprisingly. And then made the eight-foot putt and said ‘ok we can do this.'"

She would go on to post three-consecutive birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to finish 5-under, five strokes better than her first round. Kim said simplifying the process, keeping her mistakes small and ignoring the numbers will be key for the final three rounds.

"One foot in front of the other, hit ball, find, do again," said Kim. "But just like today, I'm going to minimize mistakes. I don't want to think, I shot 5-under yesterday, so that means I can shoot 7-under under today. I try to avoid thinking like that. Just more about hitting good quality shots and adding them up at the end."

All-American girls: Seven members of the Golfweek 2012 NCAA All-America Team are in action this week, trying to play their way onto the LPGA Tour after their respective, accomplished college careers. Second-team member and former LSU star Austin Ernst currently leads the group and shot rounds of 70-71 and sits T6 with three rounds to play.

The remaining standouts and their results are as follows: First Team: Brooke Pancake, Alabama (70-72, -2); Marina Alex, Vanderbilt (70-73, -1); Giulia Molinaro, Arizona State (72-71, -1); Lisa McClosky, USC (70-73, -1); Second Team: Katie Burnett University of South Carolina (72-72, E); Honorable Mention: Emily Talley, Colorado (74-74, +4).

Of note…Two-time LPGA winner Laura Diaz improved to 3-under par and is currently tied with six other players for a tie for sixth…Former U.S. Women's Open champion Birdie Kim shot 6-over on Thursday and is currently 10-over and T104…Four-time LET winner and 2011 European Solheim Cup Team member Mel Reid saw little improvement from a poor opening round and has recorded rounds of 79-76 and currently T108 at 11-over… Marita Engzelius of Norway holds the top amateur spot at 1-under par and is in a tie for 17th after 36 holes

 

LACEY AGNEW, -7

Run us through your day and how your round went.
We had a game plan coming into today. I knew I played well yesterday with conditions a little chillier so going off in the morning and expecting less winds. We were aggressive at some pins and knew if we were hitting the green all day and making some putts that it could be a good day.

You've had experience here at Q School. You tied for 20th last year but lost in the playoff for full status. How do you think that experience has prepared you for this week, having gone into such a pressure situation and knowing what this week could come down to.
I think knowing what happened last year and my game plan last year, I switched that up a little bit. I just decided to stay a little more conservative in certain areas and fire at some pins when I can and see what happens.

You got off to a strong start with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. All of your birdies were paired; then 17 and 18 then 4 and 5.
The first two were kind of long. I think the first was outside 20 feet. I was just putting good strokes on the ball. I got off to a good start and stayed a little conservative for the next few hole and then was able to fire at some pins and make some birdie putts.

Run us through your year this year. Rookie this year and you played in seven events. Had some trials and tribulations, any rookie year can be difficult but what did you learn that you brought into this week.
One of the things I learned very quickly out there is that it's a putting game. So that's what I worked on in the offseason. It was great experience. I was able to get in seven events. I learned to take your time and be patient and to play your game. Don't play the course, don't play the other players but play your strengths and at the end of the day if it boils down to you shooting a good score, that's what will happen.

You have to be content with the position you're in now but there's a lot of golf to be played. What's the approach with three rounds to be played.
I'll go home and talk about my round tonight with my caddie and set up a game plan and just stick to it tomorrow. Hit the shots that I want and watch the putts fall.

CHRISTINA KIM, -5   

Awesome round today, 5-under you're 5-under for the tournament. Talk your round today, a little different than yesterday. Go through your birdies, four of the five on your back nine.
It was definitely very different than yesterday. Obviously there are blue skies and I was on 18 different holes today than yesterday. But I just went out there and plodded along and minimized the mistakes you have. If you make a mistake try to get it up and down.

So started off a little rocky on the back nine with a few scully shots here and there and few high fades where I was supposed to play a low draw. So had a little bit of an adventure early in the round but it finally started to come together. Mostly with my driver more than anything because I was able to put myself in the appropriate positions.

You had a span of three birdies, you caught fire. Was there some time where you said, alright hitting all cylinders right now.
It was after the birdie on the second hole because I had a very difficult, sort of awkward angled third shot of 55 yards down wind with this massive bunker short of it. I clipped it perfectly about eight feet short of the hole surprisingly. And then made the putt and said ‘ok we can do this.'

The third hole I missed a really good opportunity from about nine feet. Number five I hit a wedge about 125 yards to two feet. They were all within 10-12 feet. But just really solid ball striking. This golf course is a great challenge. It's a little bit more sheltered from the wonderful breeze we get from the Atlantic Ocean but it was a great day. It started off great because it started off blue skies and it was such a nice change from yesterday.

You've been vocal about your 2012 season, a bit of a disappointment to your standards. Just talk about having two rounds under your belt here and having it be your first time. You're playing well and moving forward with three rounds left.
Like you said, it's my first time here. When I was younger. After I got my card what is now the Symetra Tour, I had vowed that I would never have to go to Q School. And I would now say that no one should ever be that arrogant. But now that I'm here, it has a very unique atmosphere. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that everyone should do at least once. Not at least, just once. Because it's different.

There are kids out here who are the same age I was when I was playing the Symetra Tour and you have the two Thai girls just killing it on the golf course, high ranked European players, girls just out of college. It's just this entire ecosystem that is unique and it can be fun if you allow it to be fun.

Because it can be a grind and I don't know if I'll have the same attitude down the stretch on Sunday. I'm sure I'll get cranky at some point. But to have this opportunity is eye-opening and something everyone should do just once.

You've been out here practicing all last week. What have you been practicing and working on in your swing? You've had some time off, anything specific you've been concentrating on?
To be honest, one of the reasons I've been out the past couple of weeks is mainly because it's my first time here and in the 11 years I've been a professional, I've played this golf course twice. The last time I played I don't even think I played all 18 holes because it was so cold. But I felt like I needed to play catch up a little bit.

There are some girls out here that throughout their career have had to come here two or three times with a couple bad seasons here or there. Everyone has them. But there are some players who have played Q School three or four times and you multiply that by five rounds of competition, that 15 rounds they've built up on top of me. So I felt like I had to play catch up.

The past couple days I've been really hitting it the way I wanted to. It was just one of those silly things that my dad stood up ahead of me and said you know your club is like 75 degrees open? So I said that high floppy short cut that I'm hitting is probably because the club face. And I squared it up a bit and was like oh my gosh I'm compressing the ball; that's what it's supposed to feel like.

So that's all I've been working on. I went through this whole thing, that anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I've been hitting 1,000 putts a day trying to find a putter that worked. But came down and found a finalist, so hopefully it'll help me make it through and finish in the top-20 on Sunday.

Going forward, with three rounds left and pulling the momentum from today, what's the game plan for the next three days?
One foot in front of the other, hit ball, find, do again. But just like today, I'm going to minimize mistakes. I don't want to think, I shot 5-under yesterday, so that means I can shoot 7-under under today. I try to avoid thinking like that. Just more about hitting good quality shots and adding them up at the end.

Topics: LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Kim, Christina, Agnew, Lacey

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