Moriya Jutanugarn Leads Fourth-Round LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament

LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
LPGA International- Champions & Legends Courses
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fourth-round Notes and Interviews

December 1, 2012

Fourth Round Results>>

Rebecca Lee-Bentham
Lisa McClosky
Marita Engzelius
Meaghan Francella

Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn carded two birdies in her bogey-free 2-under 70 in the fourth round of LPGA Final Qualifying and maintained her six-shot lead over Japan’s Ayako Uehara with 18 holes to play. It was the highest score the teenager posted all week following her first three rounds of 68-66-69. She heads into the final round at 15-under par.

“Yep, two birdies. That’s all,” said Jutanugarn with a laugh. “It’s easier to remember that way.”

The Bangkok native has done her fair share in birdie counting this week, carding 16 in her first three rounds. Stating troubles on the greens as her main concern all week, Jutanugarn said she didn’t see much improvement on Saturday.

“It was worse than yesterday,” said Jutanugarn. “But I’m ok (laughs). I don’t have to complain about anything right now. Just working on the putts tomorrow. Everyone has an off today and today it was off for me.”

“The biggest thing for me right now is just getting my card,” said Jutanugarn. “Then I get to look forward to next year and how to hang on. That’s hard. It’s life. There will be so many challenges and you’ll have to work harder and harder. Everybody works hard.”

2012 LPGA Tour rookie Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Toronto, Canada) sank a 60-foot putt for an eagle on the 18th hole to put her in sole position of third at 8-under par. Fellow Canadian Stephanie Sherlock (Barrie, Ontario) and Lisa McClosky (Houston, Texas) are in a tie for fourth at 7-under.

A group of three players including two-time LPGA Tour winner Laura Diaz (Scotia, NY), Rolex Rankings No. 19 Chie Arimura (Kumamoto, Japan) and University of Oklahoma alum Kelly Jacques (Longmont, Colo.) are tied for sixth at 6-under par.

Wake up call: Having played their entire golf careers side-by-side, the Jutanugarn sisters have faced some separation anxiety the past three months having been on opposite sides of the world and now taking separate paths toward their professional careers.

Moriya, the elder sister by one year and four months has been on the East Coast playing her way through LPGA Q School while younger sister, Ariya, was playing in LPGA events in Malaysia and Thailand. Ariya is back in the Los Angeles area preparing for the Ladies European Tour Q School next month in Morocco and has done her best to show her support for her older sister this week. Moriya said her sister has been trying to wake up at 5am Pacific Time to make a good luck call before her tee time.

“She’s been trying to wake up every morning at like 5 o’clock to call me before I go off,” said Moriya. “Yesterday I don’t know what happened. I called her after the round and asked what happened. She said she heard the ringing when I called her early to see what happened but said she wanted to sleep for ten more minutes. Then she woke up at eight California time and I was already playing.”

Laughing off the early morning misstep from her sister, Moriya said it’s always nice to talk to her about her rounds since she probably knows her game better than anyone.

“We talk a little bit,” said Moriya. “I told her my putting wasn’t very good but she encourages me.”

Ariya did not meet the age requirement for the LPGA Tour next season and Moriya says it will be a challenge once they’re separated on two different tours. But she knows she’s fortunate with having a set of devoted and supportive parents.

“It will be hard to not stay together, the four of us,” said Moriya. “But it’s good, she’ll have my dad go with her and my mom with me. We have parents to be with us which is great. My mom has always been with me.”

Japan on the rise: With a group of four players in the field this week and all making the 72-hole cut, the future of Japanese women’s golf seems to be in good hands. One of the headlining talents in Daytona Beach this week is Chie Arimura, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 19 in the Rolex Rankings. Arimura has played solid all week and is making a run at earning her LPGA Tour card on her first attempt. The Kumamoto native turned pro in 2006 and has played on the JLPGA, winning 13 times in her career.

“I’ve played on the Japanese tour since I’ve turned pro and it’s a great tour with a lot of events and good courses,” said Arimura. “The fans are great over there. But if I can play here in America and do well, hopefully the fans in Japan will be happy. It will help grow the game in Japan to have a lot of players do well.”

While Arimura is the biggest name in the field, Ayako Uehara is doing a good job of making a name for herself this week. She’s currently in sole position of second heading into the final round. When asked what it would mean to her to earn her way onto the LPGA, Uehara said it’d be an honor.

“I’d be really honored to be in that elite group (of Japanese players) and to make it onto the U.S. Tour,” said Uehara. “It’s the best in the world. So I’d be so happy to make it here. I’d look forward to play in the majors and playing with the best players in the world.”

Both players have ties to current LPGA members and fellow Japan natives Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato and said the two have been trailblazers for players like them to make the transition to the U.S.-based Tour.

“Ai has been a great help,” said Arimura, who went to high school with Ai. “When she comes back to Japan, we talk about the Tour. If I ever have a question about the American tour or anything like that, I can go to her and she helps us. It’s a great relationship that we have.”

Uehara is from the same island of Okinawa as the Miyazatos and said she knows both of them will be in her support system if she earns her spot on Tour.

“At the Japanese Women’s Open, Ai and Mika went back to Japan and I told them that I was coming here and told them if I make it that they need to tell me what I need to do,” said Uehara.

Ace Alert! Former University of Southern California standout Lisa McClosky carded a hole-in-one on the par 3 14th to help her reach 5-under for the day and a tie for fourth at 7-under with one round to play. She used a 7-iron from 146 yards out for the ace and said the nerves at final stage have not gotten to her just yet. She admits to being more nervous at first stage in September.

“It will be hard not to be nervous,” said McClosky of the final round. “I think I was more nervous for first stage since there was a cut after two days. You don’t want to be cut at first stage. Just stay calm. Pars are good and stay positive.”

The U.S. Curtis Cup Team member said the transition from college to the professional ranks has been manageable but still has some expectations she needs to uphold.

“Working out every day and playing from 8:30 to like 3:30 then working out,” said McClosky of her new schedule.  “By far the longest time I went with just practicing. Transitioning from practicing only two hours a day to being a professional and having it as your job. My parents expect me to wake up decently early and do stuff.  That part is a little hard to adjust to.”


On the brink: With only 20 spots awarded for exempt status on Tour next year, players within range will be in fighting mode tomorrow for one of the coveted positions.
Notable players on the brink heading into the final round: 2011 Symetra Tour Player of the Year Kathleen Ekey (T14), 2011 NCAA individual champion Austin Ernst (T19), Honda Award winner and First-Team All American Brooke Pancake (T19), two-time LPGA winner Christina Kim (T24) and Second Stage Qualifying medalist Katie Burnett (T24).

The top-20 players at the conclusion of tomorrow’s final round will earn Priority in Category 12 for the 2013 LPGA Tour season. Players finishing in the 21st-45th spots will earn Priority in Category 17.  In the event of a tie for 20th place, the 20th position will be determined by a playoff. All other ties will be broken on the basis of the lowest, most recent round at the Final Qualifying Tournament.


Might as well jump:
Several players made the most of moving day on Saturday and drastically improved their positions for the final round. Seven players shot a fourth-round best 5-under 67. Jordan Hardy (Sylacauga, Ala.), Jamie Hullet (Mesquite, Texas), Katie Burnett (Brunswick, Ga.), Marina Alex (Wayne, NJ) and Guilia Molinaro (Treviso, Italy) all started the round on the outside looking in on any status for next year’s LPGA Tour, but after all posting 67’s have positioned themselves for a spot in the top-20 who will earn exempt status for 2013.

Symetra Tour member Stefanie Kenoyer shot 2-under 70 on Saturday to make the cut on the number at 6-over 294.

See you on Sunday: A total of 71 players made the cut which fell at 6-over par 294. Sunday’s final round will be played on the Champions course at LPGA International. Tee times start at 7:30am ET on both the first and tenth tees with the leaders going off at 9:31am ET on No. 1. Find the complete pairings at http://www.lpga.com/golf/news/2012/12/qschool-stage-iii-final-pairings.aspx


Notables missing out:
2005 U.S. Women’s Open champion Birdie Kim’s 3-under 69 on Saturday was not enough to salvage her week and finished one shot off the cut at 7-over 295 (76-78-72-69)…LET member and European Solheim Cup Team member Mel Reid missed the cut after rounds of 79-76-71-71, finishing 9-over 297.


Quote of the Day: “
I’m not looking forward to having to go spray tanning and getting my tanlines taken care of but I’m really looking forward to it.” –Meaghan Francella on being in fellow LPGA Tour member and close friend Morgan Pressel’s wedding in January.  


REBECCA LEE-BENTHAM, -8

Today I wasn’t making any putts but it was nice to end off with a 60-footer. I was close all day they just didn’t’ fall. It was a little frustrating. Finishing with that long putt will let me sleep tonight.

I think nerves always play a role in Q School. I’ll just try to play against the course and don’t worry about other people. I know I can play out here.

On Monday, I could swing a club. Monday and Tuesday I didn’t hit a ball my practice rounds were just chipping and putting. I was a little worried coming into the week, whether I’d be able to hit a shot. Pain is a lot better. It’s lurking but ok.

I know the courses well here now from practice rounds and last year. As long as I keep my nerves calm I should be able to come out of this week.

You and Stephanie Sherlock are both from Ontario and both toward the top of the leaderboard. Talk about being from Canada and the state of the Canadian women’s game.
Golf Canada has done so much for amateur golf in Canada and being on the national team, me and Steph had so many benefits from it, traveling the world and gaining the experience we need to be out here. I think that really helped. I can see Canada golf on the rise.

I started taking piano and violin lessons when I was younger with my older brother and sister. And I kind of hated it, being forced in a room and being forced to just move my hands. I didn’t’ like it at all. My dad gave me that choice and he said ‘if you really want to do golf, you can do that.’ He’s been my coach from the beginning. He knows a lot about the game.

How is the father-daughter, caddie-player relationship?
Of course we have our little fights here and there but we work things out. We’re still together. He’s been a huge help to make me where I am today so I appreciate everything

How was making your decision to leave Texas after your freshman year?
It was the best decision of my life to go to Texas for my freshman year and just experiencing the college life and seeing what’s out there. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. For me to turn pro was a hard decision but I just felt it was the way to go and I’m happy with it.

What were some of the biggest obstacles you overcame in your rookie season?
It’s tough, all the players out there are super good. I used to think it was all mental and as long as I’m mentally strong, I can play out there. But it’s also skill and in order to get that mental aspect you need to hit those shots. So practicing over and over again and knowing you have that shot in you to be string mentally is what I’ve been learning and think it’s paid off.

Mentality for tomorrow?
I’m comfortable with my game. I’m hitting it well and stroking it well and as long as I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll be in fine position.

LISA MCCLOSKY, -7

How’s your first Q School experience been so far?
Well I made a hole in one today. Which was cool. On the 14th. Used a 7 iron from 146 yards. Fourth in my career. All have been in tournaments.

Talk about your decision to stay in school all four years.
For me it was a no brainer. I think it’s just a personal preference sort of thing. I think I felt I was mature enough to turn pro after high school but I needed that extra tournament prep and learning how to practice. I just wanted the college experience. I don’t regret any of it.

How did the transfer process go?
The coach was really good about it. We had a few girls leave, five came in and four of us left. I think it was really stressful for her. I asked for a transfer after my freshman year and she asked me to stay a year longer because if I left we would’ve only had four players. So I ended up staying but it ended up working out really well with USC.

How were your experiences at the Curtis Cup and the World Amateur Team Championship?
The Curtis Cup was awesome. Except for the whole losing part. I knew a lot of the girls well before and were good friends with them so to get to bond with them. And getting to play alternate shot and best ball.

It was on a bigger scale. The crowds were awesome. We had great crowds. By far the biggest I’ve played in front of. I played the Open but no one was watching me. We had thousands of people in the fairway which was cool.

How old were you when you played at Oakmont?
18 and then played at the Broadmoor at 19. And then played the Kraft.

What was your schedule like this fall?
I played in the World Amateur Team Championship in between Q1 and Q2 and then have just been practicing since which is fine. I had already played the course at Q1 so I’ve seen it before. Just working on stuff I was struggling on.

Working out every day and playing from 8:30 to like 3:30 then working out. By far the longest time I went with just practicing. Transitioning from practice only two hours a day to being a professional and having it as your job. My parents expect me to wake up decently early and do stuff.  That part is a little hard to adjust to but I have people I play with people at Redstone.

How’d you get your start?
I was born in Colombia. I’ve played for both countries, Colombia and U.S. with dual citizenship. It was in Venezuela where my parents put us in a summer camp with swimming, tennis and golf and they said I was good.

We moved to Colombia and started practicing every day. The guys down there are really good with kids. We’d go to the country club on the weekends and spend the whole day there. Both my parents and my older brother were golfers. Then I moved to Texas and it became more of an everyday thing and played in tournaments.

Thoughts going into the last round?
Just stay calm. It will be hard not to be nervous. I think I was more nervous for first stage since there was a cut after two days. You don’t want to be cut at first stage. Just stay calm. Pars are good and stay positive.

MARITA ENGZELIUS, -5

How has your Q school experience been so far?
I just wanted to do it as an experience, to get into the pro -life and to see how it was. Going into first stage, I didn’t have any expectations and it’s gone really well. I’m pleased to be here and having a shot.

You’re the top amateur right now, talk about your plans for the future if you do get a top-20 spot.
I’ll definitely take it. That would be a dream come true. If I don’t, I’ll stay an amateur and probably play in Europe and the Symetra Tour next year.

How did you get your start in Norway and how you started to play competitively.
It started with my dad trying to make me play which I didn’t want to. He stopped asking me to go to the course so then I started to go there by myself. I would practice a lot. I got to play in European championships and the curve went upward. I went t

How’d you get recruited to Tulsa?
I sent out letters. Some schools didn’t have open spots. Coach Keck ended up giving me a call and I visited and loved it.

Did you think to ever turn pro early or was it easy staying all four years, now four and a half?
I think it was a good choice for me, not for everybody of course. You’re playing a lot with good players. All of the good players from Europe are in America. It’s good competition, good tournaments and good courses.

Biggest challenges moving from Norway to U.S. for college?
The culture is different. That was the biggest part. When to say what and what not to say.

How long have you been using a belly putter? What are your thoughts on the announcement to ban it?
I started with it two years ago, originally for a practice tool and I really liked it and just continued with it. I guess if we’re not allowed to I will quit. I guess it all depends on your mindset so we’ll say an easy transition back.

Suzann Pettersen is out of the same club in Norway as you. What role has she played, being the only Norwegian on Tour, for young players in Norway trying to make this their career and make their way on tour?
She’s so great because she practices so hard. And everything she does is so professional. You know that’s a big deal. I really look up to her for that. She’s a great player. She’s deserved everything she has. It’s fun that’s she’s had a few wins this year.

Mindset going into tomorrow?
Having fun. That’s what I try to do every round so if I can accomplish that I know I will do well.

MEAGHAN FRANCELLA, -4

You started the day at T20, right on the brink of getting that full status, talk about your day today and what you did to piece together a pretty solid round.
I have my coach Gail Peterson here this week and the last couple of days I haven’t hit it too great, I found something on the range yesterday and it kind of came over into today and I hit it much better. I think I committed to every shot. I haven’t actually looked at the leaderboard all week. That was one of my things not to do this week.

Talk about your year in 2012. You’ve been frank in saying you’ve had a hard year. What were some of the lessons you learned and hope to improve on through this whole week and then hopefully going into next year.
2012 was very difficult. I went through some personal stuff at the beginning of the season and it kind of got worse as the year went on. I was playing to make cuts and I never did that before and it was a weird feeling. Everybody has bills, payments and mortgages but I just felt the pressure of that more this year than I ever felt. I just didn’t feel good about myself. It was my goal in the offseason to really take care of me.

What’s been your schedule like, practice wise, off the course since your last LPGA event? What have you been working on to prepare for this week?
I have been in the gym two hours a day and then get to the course at 8am and leave at 2:30. Then at the gym from three to five. That’s basically been my schedule. Eat, golf, workout, sleep. And that’s basically it. I’ve made a couple trips up to Sea Island to see my coach and I’ve worked with my trainer all winter and really grinded my tail off. I’ve lost a bunch of weight. I feel the best I’ve felt in a really long time.

Is this is most attention you’ve put into your fitness and your game?
Honestly, yea. In 2007, I came out on Tour in the best shape of my life and I would say this has been the best shape I’ve been in. I just really dedicated myself to that and it’s making my mental game a lot better too. I feel stronger physically. I feel like I could go play another 18 right now. So it’s been a really good thing.

You’re one of a lot of Symetra Tour alumni  out here, you finished fifth on the Tour’s money list in 2006 to earn full status on the LPGA. Talk about that tour and how much that has helped your development. A lot of players coming out of that tour.
I think everybody should have to play it. I learned how to win out there, I learned how to travel, I learned how to be my myself, I learned how to deal with things on course. I think it’s a really great learning experience out there. We had a great group of girls out there. We had a lot of fun. I traveled with my best friends. We had a blast.

But it’s definitely not where I wanted to be full time. But I was fortunate I made it out in two and half years and had a nice career in the beginning and the last few years have been tough for me. But seeing a turnaround here shortly.

You name Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon and Karrie Webb as some of your closest friends and mentors. Talk about that relationship of having them as supporters and giving you advice and the idea of having mentors.
I have a very good support system of friends and I’m very lucky. Meg, Beth and Karrie have really taken me under their wing in the last few years and especially this year. I had a lot of hard talks with them  and a lot of crying phone calls with them. But they care about me so much. And I’m grateful to have such nice people in my life like that. They’ve really given me advice.

I’ve been on the phone with Beth every day this week and Meg. Getting their advice on stuff. Beth was actually the one that told me not to look at the scores this week. She said you can only control you and don’t look at any scores this week. That was her one piece of advice.  I texted Stacy at 6:30 in the morning yesterday and I was anxious to play. I didn’t hit it great the day before.

I’ve had a lot of support this week. Paula came out on Friday to watch and that’s been nice and a lot of text messages. I’m very lucky to have a lot of friends that care about me on Tour.

You have Stacy’s caddie, Travis, on the bag. How’d that go down? Did you ask him or did Stacy offer him out?
I had a caddie lined up and he cancelled on me a couple weeks before and I was kind of in a slight panic as you can imagine and I talked to Stacy and was like ‘ I don’t know what to do.’ And I said ‘do you think Travis would do it?’

She said ‘let me talk to him, don’t’ text him yet.’ And so she talked to him and she sad ‘why don’t you talk to him’ and he said ‘I’m 90 percent sure I can do it.’ But I was like I’m still 10 percent stressed. So I actually went over to Naples for Stacy’s Player of the Year award and he told me there he could do it and I’ve was so relieved. It’s been so great to have him out here. He’s been a breath of fresh air; he’s been fun.

You’re one of the more well-like players on Tour and you have a big event coming up off the course. You’re going to be in Morgan Pressel’s wedding in January, just touch on that and what you’re looking forward to for such a big day for one of your really good friends.
I’m just really excited for her. She’s really looking forward to it. Andy’s a great guy and I’m really happy for them. I’m not looking forward to having to go spray tanning and getting my tanlines taken care of but I’m really looking forward to it. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

There’s a couple of us that are really close friends in the wedding so it’s going to be a good time. Trying to get skinny to wear that dress . So that’s my motivation in the gym in the next six weeks.

Mindset going into tomorrow?
Same as last four days. Get lost in the process and be committed and just keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve been getting better every day. I’ve been consistent and making a lot of birdies. I had some trouble getting in the clubhouse the first two days but I’ve got that taken care of now. So just stay calm with Travis.

At the end of the day it’s just another golf tournament. I’m just going to go about my business. People will be nervous. I’ve been there. I’ve played here before when I just got out of college. The nerves fly tomorrow. I have the experience that some of the others might not. I’ve won on tour and have been on Tour. I actually have status and am playing to improve it. I think that takes a little pressure off me. Just 100 percent commitment and that’s the goal.

 

Topics: LPGA Qualifying Tournament

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