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

LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Stage II
Plantation Golf and Country Club
Panther and Bobcat courses
Venice, Fla.
Third Round News & Notes
Sept. 29, 2011

Three Tied For Lead After Three Rounds Of LPGA Qualifying

VENICE, Fla., Sept. 29, 2011 – After an afternoon thunderstorm dumped heavy rain and suspended play for one hour and 42 minutes in today’s third round of the LPGA’s Stage II Qualifying Tournament, players were forced to race the setting sun to finish.

And when they did, three players moved into a share of the lead at 9-under 207. Grabbing the lead was the trio of Thidapa (“Jasmine”) Suwannapura (66) of Bangkok, Thailand, amateur Julia Boland (67) of Tamworth, Australia, and Ginger Howard (68) of Bradenton, Fla. All three played on the Panther course today at Plantation Golf and Country Club.

“I like the Bobcat course better, but today was good,” said Suwannapura, 18, who hit 15 greens in regulation today and rolled in 27 putts in her seven-birdie, single-bogey round. “I just tried to hit the ball straight, hit greens and make putts.”

Boland and Howard played together in the second-to-last group and pushed to complete their rounds. Still, the race against sunlight and the possibility of having to return to the course on Friday morning to complete the third round didn’t knock either player off track to turn in solid numbers.

Howard was bogey-free in her round with four birdies and brought a comfort level of living less than an hour away into this week’s event. While others not familiar with Bermuda-grass greens have struggled with putting, Howard felt right at home.

“I was solid and I like the way I putted today,” said Howard, 17, who needed 27 putts in today’s round. “I made some good up and downs for par saves. I got it done.”

Boland, who has won three college tournaments as a member of the Texas A&M University team, is here this week hoping to gain playing status for 2012. Her round today moved her a step closer to that goal.

One shot off the lead at 8-under 208 is second-round leader Stephanie Na (72) of Adelaide, Australia, and rookie pro Junthima (“Numa”) Gulyanamitta (71) of Rayong, Thailand.

Stephanie Connelly (68) of Pasadena, Md., Hannah Yun (71) of Bradenton, Fla., and Lizette Salas (72) of Azusa, Calif., are tied at 6-under 210.

Thirty-three players are under par and 42 players are at even-par 216 or better after three rounds in the LPGA’s second stage of qualifying.

Friday’s final 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 leaders will tee off at 1:20 p.m., 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 without a 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.

Old Friend, New Putter: Canadian Susan Nam of Edmonton, Alberta picked a good time to shoot her career-low score of 7-under 65 today. Nam credited her switch to a long putter, the Titleist Scotty Cameron “Kombi,” for her seven-birdie, bogey-free round that featured only 23 putts. Nam says she switched to the 46-inch putter after watching PGA star Adam Scott on TV.

“He uses a long putter and is just terrific,” said Nam, who actually bought a men’s belly putter with an extension because the long putters were too long for her. “When I thought about the weaknesses in my game, it always came back to my putting, so I decided to try a long putter. I had nothing to lose.”

Nam made the switch to a long putter in early September during the LPGA Futures Tour’s last tournament in Albany, N.Y. The idea was to see if she liked the putter and to put it in play prior to Q-school.

The next thing she did in preparation for this week’s Q-school was to convince good friend and fellow Futures Tour pro Hannah Kang to be her caddie. Kang posted six top-10s and finished No. 8 on the Futures Tour’s 2011 money list to earn 2012 LPGA status. For the last three days, though, Kang was helping Nam as cook and caddie during this week’s Q-school road trip in Venice, Fla.

“Hannah was great reading the greens,” said Nam, 25, who played college golf at Florida International University. “I usually get really nervous during a tournament, but I just talked to Hannah and she calmed me down. It was a big help and everything worked today.”

Young Aussie Learns From Hall of Famer Webb: She’s competing in the LPGA Stage II Qualifying Tournament this week, but Australian rookie professional Jessica Speechley spent the week of the U.S. Women’s Open taking notes. That’s because Speechley, one of the two top performers in the annual “Karrie Webb Series” in Australia, was invited to shadow the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer at the Open to learn how Webb prepares for a major championship.

Webb started the program four years ago to help boost women’s golf in Australia. The series offers up to 12 tournaments. The amateurs compete for points and at the end of the season, the top two players are given a $10,000 scholarship to support their golf expenses and tournament travel expenses. Each player is also provided with an all-expense-paid trip to the United States to spend the week with Webb in a rental home during Open week.

Webb sent Speechley a good-luck email early this week and wished the young pro well at the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She also reminded her of things they had previously discussed.

“She told me this is just another tournament and to come here, have fun and play like I always play,” said Speechley, 22, of Perth, Australia. “It’s been a good learning experience so far.”

Speechley says her biggest lesson this week is how to read Bermuda-grass greens. And before the week even started, she dealt with some travel hiccups that added $1,000 to her airfare and caused her to land at midnight on Saturday in Florida. Between her travel delays and weather issues earlier in the week, the Aussie was only able to play a practice round on one of the two courses being used for Q-school this week at Plantation Golf and Country Club.

“I didn’t have a practice round on the Bobcat course, so it was like ‘hit and hope’ when I got out there in the first round,” said Speechley, who carded an opening round of one-over 73. “But I had no expectations and did OK.”

Typhoon Produces Memorable Images: Mayule (“May”) Tomimbang was born in Manila, Philippines, but while she now lives in Florida, she still pays attention to news back home. The golfer played college golf at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she majored in engineering technology. She turned professional after college and qualified for the LPGA Futures Tour.

But this week, news back home caught her attention. A typhoon slammed into her homeland earlier this week as the LPGA Qualifying Tournament was just starting. Tomimbang watched the news, but even when TV footage showed bending trees and flooded streets, she wasn’t overly concerned about the storm.

“My family is OK because now they live pretty far from Manila,” she said. “But it was interesting to watch the news. I saw pictures of people leaving the flooded areas carrying pigs. No babies, just pigs.

Weather: Partly sunny with temperatures in the low-90s with wind between 5-10 mph. Heavy rain and lightning moved into the area in late afternoon, suspending play at 4:30 p.m. Play resumed at 6:12 p.m., with sunny skies.

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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