Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament
LPGA International - Jones and Hills Courses
Daytona Beach, Florida
December 4, 2015
Third Round News & Notes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., December 4, 2015 - For the third consecutive night, Simin Feng (Beijing, China) will sleep on the lead at the Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament. After a bogey at the 17th hole, Feng finished with an exclamation point, an eagle at the 18th, to take the outright lead heading into the weekend.
“It’s a great feeling to play good early,” Feng said. “It feels great to be in the lead but there’s still two more days to go and many more holes to come so I just have to keep going.”
Feng, who finished in a tie for sixth at Final Stage of Qualifying Tournament in 2014 to earn her LPGA Tour card, sits at 12-under for the tournament to lead Cydney Clanton (Concord, N.C.) by two-shots.
“I kind of tried to tweak my practice a little bit before this tournament,” Feng said. “I decided to focus on my wedge game and the scoring part of the game which has really helped me here. I’ve been able to save some shots and make some birdies on par-5s.”
The new approach was keyed by Feng’s father who noticed some holes in his daughter’s game during LPGA and LET tournament rounds in China.
“My dad helped me with planning the practice a little bit before I came down here,” Feng explained. “He saw some weaknesses during my tournaments with the LPGA and LET in China. He made some suggestions to work and it turned out to be pretty good. I just need to keep it going and keep it as simple as possible. It will make life a lot easier if I can.”
Feng was the 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year at Vanderbilt before turning professional.
The top 20 players following fifth round play on Sunday will earn LPGA membership in category 12 on the priority list. There are currently 17 players at 4-under, 212, or better and eight players in a tie for 18th at 3-under, 213.
Of the 13 players T8 or better, six have had LPGA Tour status in the past including the top three. Of the remaining seven, four are 20 years old or under.
CYDNEY CLANTON JUST TWO BACK: Cydney Clanton (Concord, N.C.) posted her third straight under-par round and is 10-under, 206, through three days. She carded a 3-under 69 on the Jones Course on Friday.
“To get out to a good start is always nice,” said Clanton, who is 8-under in two rounds on the Jones Course. “The weekend is just a grind, you just have to shoot low numbers. You have to just keep going.”
Clanton has had a considerable amount of success on the Jones Course this year. She finished in a tie for third at the Symetra Tour Championship in October, which is played at the Jones Course.
“This golf course (Jones) is wide open, you can get away with errant shots,” said Clanton. The other course is tighter. You kind of have to make the birdies out there, they just come out here.”
Clanton has made 45 career starts on the LPGA Tour including nine in 2015. She spent the second half of the year playing on the Symetra Tour and finished 25th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list in just 13 starts.
“The goal is to have full status and play LPGA,” said Clanton. “You want to play LPGA and be in contention with the best players in the world and win big time golf tournaments.”
18-YEAR-OLD SUKAPAN CARDS 5-UNDER: Budsabakorn Sukapan (Bangkok, Thailand) carded a 5-under 67 to move to 8-under, 208, and a tie for fourth. She capped the day with an eagle on the 18th hole of the Jones Course.
“Everything was working really well today,” said Sukapan, with the help of her sister. “I made some long putts and some par saves and my approach shots were good too.”
Sukapan played in the 2015 Honda LPGA Thailand this year and finished in a tie for 49th. She got the chance to play alongside household LPGA names like Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson.
“It’s my dream to play on the LPGA and it was a great experience to play with Kerr and Thompson,” said Sukapan. “I’m hoping for a good weekend so I can play on the LPGA.”
Sukapan played in three events on the Thailand LPGA this past year. She finished second at the Thailand LPGA Masters, just two strokes behind Pornanong Phatlum.
Sukapan is one of four players from Thailand currently inside the top 20.
BELEN MOZO WITHDRAWS: Belen Mozo (Cadiz, Spain) withdrew after 11 holes on Friday due to tightness in her neck. Mozo finished No. 101 on the LPGA Tour money list in 2015 so she will have category 16 status on the LPGA in 2016.
“I strained my neck walking to the first tee,” said Mozo after being evaluated by the LPGA physiotherapists on site. “I was healthy and strong but just made a bad move that tweaked my neck. The competitor in me wanted to finish but I wasn’t able to”.
Mozo has three career top 10 finishes on the LPGA.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed that I can’t compete this weekend to improve my status, but I’m taking the necessary precautions to ensure I’m 100% healthy and prepared for the start of the 2016 season.”
2-TIME SYMETRA TOUR WINNER AND BIG BREAK CHAMP HAS DAY: Jackie Stoelting (Vero Beach, Fla.) used a 4-under round on the Hills Course to jump from T58 into a tie for 18th at the Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying School.
“I hit a lot pretty close,” Stoelting explained. “I hit on the fourth hole to three feet and then I made three birdies in a row. I felt really good and had a lot of really good saves. It was solid. I wasn’t hitting my driver really good but I was able to hang on and hit some really good iron shots.”
The aforementioned three birdie run sparked the round for Stoelting who finished her day with six birdies to climb to 3-under for the week.
“Every shot counts,” Stoelting said. “I started out the week ok with a 1-over. I know that I had some work to do and I took advantage. I knew I needed to shoot a low score eventually so I was just really trying to stay patient and remember the times I won on Symetra and use that confidence. What I’ve learned is that my bad rounds now tend to become even or 1-over so I think that’s important.”
The two victories on Symetra occurred during back-to-back events - the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout and the IOA Golf Classic - in September and October.
“Those two wins were huge,” Stoelting admitted. “I believe in myself again and I know that I have the game to compete. Unfortunately, it has been a little while since the wins so the first two rounds were a little shaky but today it solidified that I’m back on track and playing how I did in those two events.”
RECENT MISSISSIPPI STATE GRAD IN HUNT: Making her first trip to the final stage of LPGA Qualifying, Ally McDonald (Fulton, Miss.) finds herself in the hunt for her 2016 LPGA Tour Card sitting at T26 after the first three rounds.
“It being my first time I didn’t really know what to expect,” McDonald admitted. “I knew that everybody out here was going to be grinding really hard because everyone wants to be in that top-20. Day-to-day I’m just trying to give myself the best opportunity to shoot a good score and I think I’ve done that. I’m not playing lights out or anything like that but I’m giving myself opportunities and eliminating errors and I think that’s working for me right now.”
The Mississippi State grad has tallied back-to-back rounds of 2-under 70 to sit at 2-under for the week.
“I think just staying patient is the key,” McDonald said. “The past couple of days I couldn’t really get the putter going. Yesterday was very frustrating. I hit the ball really really well and didn’t make a birdie until 17 and same for the day before when I didn’t make a birdie until 16. Today I was just really trying to improve my putting. That was the big thing and I think that I did that. I felt like I putted really well. I had a chip in which always helps. I still need to minimize mistakes but overall I’m really pleased with how I played.”