Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament
LPGA International - Jones and Hills Courses
Daytona Beach, Florida
December 5, 2015
Fourth Round News & Notes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., December 5, 2015 - Simin Feng (Beijing, China) continued her stellar play on Saturday with a 3-under 69 on the Hills Course to build a five shot lead at 15-under, 273. Feng, who played in her first LPGA event as a 14-year-old amateur, is 10 shots in front of T17 with one round left to earn her return trip to the LPGA. Feng is one of five players with four rounds under par. Cyna Rodriguez (Manila, Philippines) and Victoria Elizabeth (Dayton, Ohio), who are tied for fourth, are two others that have been under par all four days.
Julie Yang (Seoul, South Korea) and Cydney Clanton (Concord, N.C.) are tied for second at 10-under, 278.
The 72-hole cut was made at +3, 291, and 74 players will compete on Sunday for LPGA Tour membership.
Feng opened her round with three pars before a birdie on the fourth and sixth holes. She was 2-under at the turn and then made birdie on 10. Her only blemish was a bogey on the 12th hole. The 20-year-old closed with a birdie on the 18th hole.
“I played some really steady golf today,” said Feng. “My putting was going well so I was able to capitalize on my ball striking. I was just a little disappointed in the par five holes, I didn’t make any birdies. My driver was going where I wanted it to and my irons were good.”
Although the ultimate goal is a top 20 finish to earn LPGA membership in category 12, Feng is in a position to earn medalist honors after finishing T6 last year.
“My mindset coming into the tournament was to try and win,” said Feng. “Instead of thinking top 20, I think trying to win gives you a little bit of an edge. I wanted to try and finish on top of the leaderboard and now I have a chance.”
Feng played in 19 events in her rookie season on the LPGA. Although it wasn’t a great year, she made the cut in four of her final six starts and hopes to return with more confidence.
“This past year on the LPGA helped me a lot to learn about myself and my golf and how to travel,” said Feng. “I think I’ve improved a lot on my putting. I still need to work more on my putting and chipping.”
In 2009, Feng received an invite into the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship as a 14-year-old and played a practice round with Yani Tseng.
“When I first got to play with Yani, just her attitude and personality made me really look up to her,” said Feng. “I also really look up to Annika because of her success.”
In the final round of the event in ‘09, Feng was paired with former World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa.
The final group on Sunday of Feng, Yang and Clanton will tee at 9:42 a.m. on the Hills Course.
2ND YOUNGEST IN FIELD, SSU CHIA CHENG, POSTS 5-UNDER: Ssu Chia Cheng (New Taipei City, Taiwan) tallied a 5-under, 67, on the Hills Course to move from a tie for 48th into a tie for 17th heading into Sunday’s final round. Cheng is ranked No. 107 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. In her rookie year on the Ladies European Tour, she ranks 14th on the Order of Merit.
“Before today there were only two rounds to go,” Cheng said. “You’ve only got two chances so you have to get it.”
The 18-year-old, who goes by Scarlett, made her run by carding a bogey free 67 to move to 5-under for the week. She capped off the round with a 20-footer that rolled halfway around the cup and dropped.
“Before the round I didn’t set any goals or targets,” Cheng explained. “I just wanted to enjoy my round. It was a struggle the last three days. I was just trying to enjoy it and play well.”
Like all the players in the field this week the goal for Cheng is to make the LPGA Tour where she has already competed nine times with a career-best finish of T15 at the 2014 Fubon LPGA Taiwan.
“The LPGA is definitely the best tour in the world,” Cheng explained. “I think that everyone wants to get it so that’s my target also.”
Another solid round from Cheng could be enough to get the second youngest player in the field this week onto the LPGA Tour joining her mentor Yani Tseng.
“She’s amazing,” Cheng said of her fellow country woman. “She’s great. She always gives us support.”
FIRST Q-SCHOOL SINCE 1999 AND IN MIX: Following a fourth round 5-under 67 that moved Heather Bowie Young to T17, she said she’s content with her golf career, but also feels like she has more left. The 40-year-old, who is playing in her first Qualifying Tournament since 1999, made only one bad swing on her second shot of the day, and finished birdie-birdie after her lone bogey on the 16th hole.
“I missed just one fairway and one green all day,” said Young. “I had to make a 25-footer for par on the first and I made it and thought everything was going to be OK.”
Young last played Q-School in ‘99 when only the Jones course was used. She played one practice round on the Hills Course during the Symetra Tour Championship and a few this week, but wasn’t as familiar with the course. It showed in the second round when she posted a 76.
“This tournament is so long that I just play, I don’t look at scores because anything can happen,” said Young. “The Hills Course is different, but I like it. I’m glad that they play this course on the last day for the three and two format.”
Young, who has LPGA status through the “winners category”, said she’s not feeling a ton of pressure for Sunday. She won the 2005 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic and therefore has category 18 status. If she finishes anywhere instead the top 45, she will improve her status for 2016. Young said she got into four events on winners status in 2015 and is confident she’ll get into more in 2016 on that status.
“I would love to be on the LPGA Tour again, I would absolutely love it,” said Young. “I love where I am in life and if I’m not, I’m not. I’ve done things I never thought I’d do and there are still things that I want to do. Sunday is just another round of golf. I had no status when I was here 16 years ago so I’m definitely more at ease this time around.”
In addition to her win, Young has totaled 27 career top 10’s on the LPGA.
“There is definitely more that I want to do, but sometimes I think that I’ve had a pretty great life and if my professional career ends then I’ll be able to sleep OK.”
She decided to leave the game in 2014 and took a job with the First Tee in Fort Worth. She visited her husband, Jeremy, who was a longtime caddie for Angela Stanford and now totes the bag for rising star Minjee Lee and felt the urge to return. Jeremy gave her the final push she needed to get back into golf.
Young might not even be at Qualifying Tournament this year if it wasn’t for a $10,000 check she received for making a hole-in-one in a pro-am before the Symetra Tour event in Longwood, the IOA Golf Classic.
“I might not be here if I didn’t get that check,” said Young, who had not signed up for Q-School before the check. “I discussed with my husband whether it was worth the entry fee, caddie fee, hotels and all that. If I didn’t have the $10,000 check, I might have just stuck with the winners status.”
JING YAN PART OF STRONG CHINESE CONTINGENT: Jing Yan (Shanghai, China) was just starting to find her stride on the LPGA Tour with top-20 finishes at both the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic (T20) and the Blue Bay LPGA (T14) but the finishes weren’t enough to keep her from having to come back to Q School.
“I felt like I was really starting to get comfortable out there,” Yan admitted. “I played a lot of good tournaments but somewhere around the middle it just didn’t really work out for me and for me it was just trying to find my golf game through that. I think the most important thing is just believing in yourself and just knowing that you have the game to be out there and learning from the best players in the world.”
The 19-year-old has used that confidence and seems to have picked up where she left off thanks to a 5-under, 67, during the fourth round on the Hills Course.
“I just stayed patient and tried to get the opportunities in because my putting wasn’t working well the past few days,” Yan said. “Today I was able to make some putts and that really helped today.”
Yan, who currently sits in a tie for 13th, earned conditional status on the LPGA Tour thanks to a 34th place finish last season at Q-School but would like to finish in the top-20 this time around to gain full status.
“It would mean everything,” Yan said of playing full time on the LPGA Tour. “It’s all that I ever worked for. I’ve dreamed of being on the LPGA Tour since I was a little girl.”