LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament\
LPGA International, Legends and Champions Course
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Dec. 6, 2009
Skarpnord leads all to final round at LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
72 players make the cut at 9-over par 297 or better
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 6, 2009 – On a day where the third round was finished and the fourth round was played in full, Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord is the 72-hole leader at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. Skarpnord finished the day with an overall score of 6-under-par 282 for a one stroke lead over the 72 players at 9-over-par 297 or better who made the cut and are playing to improve or gain LPGA Tour membership for the 2010 season.
Skarpnord (76-66-70-70) played round three on the Champions Course at LPGA International, and recorded four birdies on holes two, three, 11 and 13, and bogeys on holes four and eight. The 23-year-old thought she played alright today, given that the day turned out to be a little longer than originally expected.
“It started off pretty cold this morning,” said Skarpnord. “It was freezing. It was cold the first like four or five holes, and I started off with a bogey. I made, I think I made two birdies, so I finished at 2-under. I was happy about that because the Legends is a little more difficult. I played alright here today. It was a long day. I am tired now and looking forward to some sleep. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
One stroke back from Skarpnord is a pair of players, Amanda Blumenherst and Nicole Jeray, each at 5-under-par 283. Blumenherst started the day on the Legends Course, finishing up the 12 holes she had left of the third round which was postponed since Friday due to heavy rains, making the courses unplayable. Once Blumenherst got her fourth round underway, she played the best round yet this week. On the Champions Course, the Duke graduate recorded six birdies and just one bogey, to finish at 5-under-par 283 (72-71-73-67).
Even though it turned out to be a really long day for the majority of the 105 players in the field, Blumenherst didn't mind at all.
“I actually really like playing 36 holes in one day,” said Blumenherst. “I just like to keep the momentum going. So, it really fit my game being able to play more holes, and some girls can't do that. They get tired. So that really didn't bother me, the length of the day. I played ok finishing up my third round. I had 12 holes left. I played ok. I hit the ball really well on the Champions Course. I shot 67, but it was probably one of the best ball striking, one of the best iron play days that I had in a really long time. I'm very happy with how I played.”
Sharing the second-place position on the 72-hole leaderboard at the final stage of qualifying is Jeray, who recorded a bogey-free, five birdie third round on the Champions Course in Daytona Beach, improving her four-day score to 5-under-par 283 (70-70-76-67) to match Blumenherst's. Jeray, a 39-year-old player from Illinois, held it together after playing 32 holes of golf on Sunday.
“I really held it together today,” said Jeray. “It was really difficult for me to play as many holes as I did today, you know, because of my sleepiness. I felt great today. The first bunch of holes was difficult with all the mud and everything. I played strong on this 18.”
With all the weather delays and suspensions the 105 players have had to deal with this week, Sunday gave players an opportunity to show what they came here to do, despite the long day.
“I played 14 this morning, and then 18 this afternoon,” added Jeray. “That's a lot of holes for me. I tried not to think about it. You know, you just finish your first round and then start over. Good thing this isn't a hilly golf course. Not to mention I am older than most of these girls. I have experience and I know these courses, both courses really well.”
This week's five-day qualifier got underway Wednesday with round one and Thursday with round two, then the rains came early Friday morning just in time for round three. On Friday, third-round play was suspended at 10:20 a.m. due to unplayable course conditions caused by inclement weather, and play was scheduled to resume first thing Saturday morning. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans. With more heavy rains in the forecast overnight and Saturday morning, the decision was made to cancel play on Saturday, so no golf was played. Sunday's weather, despite a little chill in the air, worked out fine and allowed the rest of round three and all of round four to be played.
The five-day qualifier has been played on both the Legends and Champions courses at LPGA International. The 105-player has been cut to the low-70 and ties after the completion of the fourth round, and 72 players will now continue in their quest in improving or gaining status for the 2010 LPGA Tour season.
The top 20 players at the conclusion of the event will earn Priority List Category 11. In the event of a tie, a playoff will decide the 20th position. Players finishing in the 21st through 30th spots will earn Priority List Category 16, followed by 31st to 40th, who will receive Priority List Category 20.
Q. You're the leader after a very long day of golf. How did the day go for you?
MARIANNE SKARPNORD: It started off pretty cold this morning. It was freezing. It was cold the first like four or five holes, and I started off with a bogey. I made, I think I made two birdies, so I finished at 2-under. I was happy about that because the Legends is a little more difficult. I played alright here today. I was 4-under and had two stupid bogeys on the back nine. I finished at 70. It was a long day. I am tired now and looking forward to sleep. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. What do you want to do tomorrow in the final round?
MARIANNE SKARPNORD: I just want to go out and do exactly the same as I've done the first four days. I just want to go out and have fun, trust my swing and just play.
Q. How are the courses holding up with the amount of rain we've had?
MARIANNE SKARPNORD: I think the Legends is pretty long because you don't get that much roll or backspin on the driver. But I like it when the courses are a little bit longer, so that's fine with me. The courses are very good. They've done a great job after all the rain, so, and there was nothing wrong with the courses today. It was preferred lies last round and I think that was a good decision.
Q. Does going into Monday affect any kind of momentum you've had?
MARIANNE SKARPNORD: No, not a problem. We have to finish the tournament, so just one more day. We knew that it could happen. Not a problem.
Q. Amanda, long day but you finished well. Can you talk about the day?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It was. I was really excited yesterday when I heard that we were going to be playing 29 holes. I actually really like playing 36 holes in one day. I just like to keep the momentum going. So, it really fit my game being able to play more holes, and some girls can't do that. They get tired. So that really didn't bother me, the length of the day. I played ok finishing up my third round. I had 12 holes left. I played ok. I hit the ball really well on the Champions Course. I shot 67, but it was probably one of the best ball striking, one of the best iron play days that I had in a really long time. I'm very happy with how I played.
Q. Yesterday we found out that we weren't playing golf. Did that mess up your momentum any?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I was glad that we weren't called out yesterday and were only going to be able to play two or three holes. I liked being able to take yesterday off and get completely mentally prepared for today. I mean it is different taking basically a day and a half off in the middle of a tournament. I wasn't too worried about it.
Q. What did you do yesterday?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I had to wait around until about 11:00 to see if it was cancelled out. Then I had some lunch and I found a practice spot and hit golf balls there. They were really nice. Then I went to Indigo Lakes and did some driving. Then I had an early dinner and went to bed early. So very laidback day, but it was nice.
Q. As intense and as important as this week already is, does the fact that we are going into Monday add to that any?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: That was kind of a down side is that it is such a long tournament, and now is extended to a whole other day. But, everyone is going through exactly the same thing, so it's not just one group.
Q. You're at 5-under and tied for second. Are you stoked about that?
NICOLE JERAY: I really held it together today. It was really difficult for me to play as many holes as I did today, you know, because of my sleepiness. I don't get sleepy, but I don't have as many batteries as everybody else, just because I don't sleep as well at night. I felt great today. The first bunch of holes was difficult with all the mud and everything. I played strong on this 18.
Q. How many holes did you play this morning?
NICOLE JERAY: I played 14 this morning, and then 18 this afternoon. That's a lot of holes for me. I tried not to think about it. You know, you just finish your first round and then start over. Good thing this isn't a hilly golf course. Not to mention I'm older than most of these girls. I have experience and I know these courses, both courses really well. I just have to do better a little bit.
Q. How tough was it this morning to play 14 holes, then to have to turn around and play another round?
NICOLE JERAY: We had 20 minutes, and it pretty much takes 20 minutes to get to the 18th hole from the first hole. I mean we were scrambling. I changed in the parking lot into shorts because I was hot. I grabbed a sandwich and went to the bathroom and we were on the tee. I mean there was no time. I ate just a little bit all day long to keep my energy sustained and that really helped. I drank a lot of water and went to the bathroom like five times while I was out there. See that helps me so much.
Q. The long day of golf is now over. How was it?
LEAH WIGGER: It was a little bit more of a struggle on the fourth round. I was just struggling with the swing a little bit. I hit some good shots, but I definitely left some good birdie opportunities out there too. Nothing was happening and I kind of stumbled on seven a little bit with a double, but you know, it was just kind of a ho-hum day. I just couldn't really get anything going.
Q. As long as this week already is, how much more stress does it add that we're adding another day tomorrow to finish this thing?
LEAH WIGGER: Well, I mean if you can think about it, yesterday we ended up having a day off. It adds just a little more stress, depending on how you think about it. Today should be the last day. I should be driving home tomorrow. I went through this in Houston too, so you just kind of have to roll with the punches.
Q. After all this rain, how are these courses holding up?
LEAH WIGGER: You know, still a couple wet areas out there, some casual water, but the greens are soft and are rolling really well. So, I mean the course is looking pretty good with the amount of rain we've had.
Q. Tomorrow is the last day?
LEAH WIGGER: Just fairways and greens. I just have to try to keep a level head tomorrow, just try to get some putts rolling and whatever happens, happens.