2009 Sectional Qualifier - Florida - First-Round Wrap Story

Lawrence Leads LPGA Florida Sectional Qualifier After First Round

VENICE, Fla., Sept. 29, 2009 – Liebelei Lawrence, of Greece, grabbed the lead today after the opening round of the second LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament. The former Vanderbilt University collegian carded a score of 4-under 68 on the Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf & Country Club to move to the top of the leaderboard.

“I was a nervous wreck this morning, but after I made a big par save from 12 feet on my first hole, it helped my mindset,” said Lawrence, 23, who has spent the last 10 months working in sales for a Tennessee athletic compression sock company. “It feels really good to get that number today, but I know that tomorrow's a new day.”

Born in Greece to a Greek mother and an American cargo pilot, Lawrence moved to the United States at age 16, and enrolled at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla. She played on the women's golf team at Vanderbilt and worked for the start-up company after graduation in 2008. She didn't turn professional until two weeks before the LPGA's Sectional Qualifying Tournament in California earlier this month, missing the cut there.

And while she never conquered her nerves at the California Q-School, Lawrence found more comfort today with her four birdies and steady opening round for a one-stroke lead over Tiffany Joh, of California; Tiffany Tavee of Arizona, Blair O'Neal, of Arizona; Shasta Averyhardt, of Michigan; and Jennifer Gleason of Florida, all at 3-under 69. Averyhardt was the only player among the top six leading scorers who played on the Panther Course today. The rest played on the Bobcat Course.

“I had a really bad week at Mission Hills (for the California sectional) and it's been a long time since I've shot anything good,” said Joh, 22, a rookie member of the Duramed FUTURES Tour and a former All-American at UCLA. “Getting adjusted to this profeional level is a lot about expectations. It takes time, but it feels good to finally play well.”

A total of 23 players are at even-par 72 or better after the first round, with 13 players finishing the day under par.

This week's sectional tournament at Plantation Golf & Country Club has a field of 112 players competing on the Bobcat and Panther courses. The 72-hole sectional follows the LPGA's first sectional tournament held earlier this month in Palm Springs, Calif., at Mission Hills Country Club.

The field will be cut to the low-70 players and ties after 36 holes.  After four rounds, the top-30 players and ties will advance into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, Dec. 2-6, 2009, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The top-30 finishers and ties from this week's Venice qualifier will join the top-30 players from the first LPGA sectional qualifier in the final stage of LPGA qualifying. Making up the rest of the field in Daytona Beach will be current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their priority standing and eligible Duramed FUTURES Tour players, who automatically advanced based on their position on the 2009 season-ending money list.

All media interested in covering the LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournaments and the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament should apply for credentials at www.lpgamediacredentials.com.

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