LPGA Qualifying Tournament-Stage II Second-round news and notes

LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Stage II
Plantation Golf and Country Club
Panther and Bobcat courses
Venice, Fla.
Second Round News & Notes
Sept. 28, 2011

Stephanie Na Takes Second-Round Lead In LPGA Qualifying

VENICE, Fla., Sept. 28, 2011 – Australia’s Stephanie Na, who confesses a fondness for heat and humidity, put her own sizzle on the Bobcat course today at Plantation Golf and Country Club.

Na carded seven birdies and one bogey for a 6-under-66 to move into the lead after the second round of the LPGA’s Stage II Qualifying Tournament. She leads the tournament at 8-under 136.

One shot back at 137 is former Purdue University collegian Junthima “Numa” Gulyanamitta (68) of Rayong, Thailand and University of Southern California four-time All-American Lizette Salas (69) of Azusa, Calif., at 138.

“I enjoy playing in hot conditions and today I made some putts,” said Na, 22, of Adelaide, Australia. “The difference between today and yesterday was that yesterday, I started out with a bang and then struggled a bit at the end. Today, I missed the first green, took bogey on the first hole, but then gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities for the rest of the round.”

Na’s putter was hotter than the Florida sunshine. Her shortest putt was an eight-foot birdie, while her six other birdies ranged from 10 feet to 18 feet. She needed only 28 putts today.

“I had a good feel for the greens and it was time for some putts to start dropping,” said Na, who had two top-10 finishes in her last two tournaments on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour.

Charging into second place today was newly turned pro Gulyanamitta of Rayong, Thailand, who played the Panther course. She recorded seven birdies and three bogeys in her round.

“This week is important, but I’m trying to feel like this is just another tournament,” said Gulyanamitta, 22, the younger sister of former LPGA Tour member Russy Gulyanamitta and a member of Purdue’s winning 2010 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship team.

Salas made her move on the Bobcat course, carding her second consecutive 69. The Californian said she finally felt more comfortable on the Bermuda-grass greens, rolling in four birdie putts in today’s round.

Co-first-round leader Hannah Yun of Bradenton, Fla., backed up today with a one-under 71 to move into a tie at 5-under 139 with Ginger Howard (70), also of Bradenton. Both teens came through the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy.

Twenty-eight players are under par and 35 players are at even-par 144 or better after two rounds in the LPGA’s second stage of qualifying.

Thursday’s third round of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II will begin at 7:45 a.m., off the first and tenth tees of both the Bobcat and Panther courses at Plantation Golf and Country Club. The low 117 scorers will play on the Panther course with the leaders starting at 1:10 p.m. A total of 116 players will play on the Bobcat course.

The event is the second of the three-part annual qualifying tournament held to determine 2012 membership on both the LPGA and LPGA Futures Tour. This year marks the first time the two tours will run joint Q-schools and the first time all of the qualifying events will be staged in the state of Florida.

The qualifying tournament returns to Plantation Golf and Country Club, which has hosted a stage of LPGA Qualifying for the last 23 years. This week’s LPGA Stage II Qualifying Tournament will be contested over 72 holes with no 36-hole cut. The top 70 and ties from Stage II will advance into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament (Stage III). All other players will receive 2012 LPGA Futures Tour status.

The LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament (Stage III) will be contested over 90 holes and will be held Nov. 30 through Dec. 4, on both the Champions and Legends courses at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Top finishers in the final stage will earn 2012 LPGA membership (total number of cards TBD) and all others who make the cut will receive membership on the LPGA Futures Tour.

From The Masters To LPGA Q-School: There are a number of professional caddies working with players in the field this week at the LPGA’s Stage II Qualifying Tournament, but one stands out. Ruben Yorio is carrying the bag for amateur Victoria Tanco of Argentina, who plays golf out of the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy in nearby Bradenton, Fla.

Yorio, also of Argentina, caddies for fellow Argentine and PGA Tour star Angel Cabrera, winner of the 2007 U.S. Open Championship and the 2009 Masters. But some of Yorio’s first looping duties came when his wife Mara Larrauri played on the Futures Tour from 1999-2005. Larrauri went home to Argentina to start a family, and Yorio picked up Cabrera’s bag after his wife retired from competition.

“It’s good to have a guy like him taking my bag because he has so much experience,” said Tanco, 17, winner of the 2011 Women’s Western Open and the No. 2 ranked women’s amateur by Golfweek magazine.

Yorio began working with Tanco earlier this summer, caddying for the teen at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the Women’s Western Open and in the first stage of LPGA Qualifying. The two Argentines teamed up again this week at the LPGA Stage II Qualifying Tournament.

“Argentina is such a small golf family, so we all know each other,” said Yorio. “Victoria is from Argentina and she’s a big deal in our country.”

“Big Break” Contestants In Tournament Field: Five members of the current Golf Channel “Big Break Ireland” cast are in the field this week at the LPGA’s Stage II Qualifying Tournament. And while Nicole Smith and Nina Rodriguez of California, Kelly Jacques of Colorado, Whitney Wright of North Carolina and Annie Brophy of Washington won’t pack their bags to leave until after Friday’s final round, one of those contestants exited the show in Tuesday night’s episode.

“I knew that show was going to come, but I was anxious to watch it,” admitted Brophy, who was eliminated from the show in a skills elimination this week. “To be honest, I did a decent amount of crying when I was eliminated.”

Brophy watched Tuesday night’s show with Smith and Rodriguez following the second round. She even sent a text message to Jacques saying, “I forgot it was you who eliminated me!” The show was filmed in May and premiered two weeks ago on the Golf Channel.

The nature of the “Big Break” requires players to perform specific shots on command and the pressure of pulling off those shots sometimes results in players either advancing to the next episode or getting bounced out of the competition. Rodriguez said, in a way, there’s a similar urgency to playing in the LPGA’s Q-School.

“We’re all here this week, waiting for our big break to the LPGA Tour,” said Rodriguez, an LPGA Futures Tour member who auditioned for the show three times before being picked as a cast member. “This is a big week.”

But did the experience of the “Big Break” help in any way for this week’s LPGA’s Qualifying Tournament?

“All I can say is I’ve never experienced pressure like ‘Big Break’ pressure because everything is so exaggerated in that competition,” said Brophy. “You learn a lot about yourself, so yeah, it probably helps.”

Ferrero Earns LPGA Card, But Returns To Qualifier As Caddie: Lisa Ferrero of Lodi, Calif., won twice this season on the LPGA Futures Tour and finished second on the tour’s 2011 money list, so she doesn’t have to worry about going back to LPGA Q-School. But the Californian is back this week anyway, serving as caddie for fellow Futures Tour pro Laura Bavaird.

“I was trying to get ready for this tournament and I was struggling a little bit,” said Bavaird, of Dearborn, Mich. “I talked to Lisa about it and she told me that all I needed was a good caddie.”

That’s when Ferrero raised her hand. Ferrero played in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama and drove over to Florida to help out Bavaird, who is making her first visit to the LPGA Qualifying Tournament.

“I’ve been here twice and I know the courses,” said Ferrero, who will play a full 2012 LPGA schedule. “I have plenty of experience in Q-school and I know how to think and feel when you’re here, so I’m happy to help her out.”

Kempter Scrambles With Three Chip-Ins: Chip-ins from the fringe are always welcome additions to any scorecard, but Katie Kempter of Albuquerque, N.M., slammed in three chip-ins during today’s second round of the LPGA Stage II Qualifying Tournament. The former LPGA Tour member and 2011 LPGA Futures Tour player used her 58-degree wedge to save par with a chip-in on No. 18, and again on No. 9. She chipped in for birdie with the same wedge on No 1.

It was a day of scrambling in which Kempter hit only eight greens in regulation and used only 22 putts. And with fellow pro Libby Smith of Vermont as her caddie this week, the two admitted that today’s second-round scramble was a real rollercoaster ride.

“I think I had two chip-ins this entire season on the Futures Tour, and today, I get three in one round,” laughed Kempter. “I was trying to make par and Libby said, ‘Just chip it in,’ so I did. It was a weird day.”

Weather: Mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-90s with wind between 5-10 mph.

For scores and more information, visit LPGA.com.

Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, (386) 214-9726 and at lisa.mickey@lpga.com .



Topics: News and Notes

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