Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament
Plantation Golf and Country Club – Panther and Bobcat Courses
October 23, 2015
Second Round News and Notes
VENICE, Fla., October 23, 2015 – Grace Na (Alameda, Calif.) and Yu Liu (Beijing, China) will share the 36-hole lead at Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Players are trying to finish in the top-80 and advance to final stage of qualifying where LPGA Tour dreams are realized.
Na fired her second consecutive 71, this one on the Panther Course, to climb into a share of the lead at 2-under, 142. Na is the only player with two rounds under par this week.
“I think the key has been staying patient and embracing every moment,” Na explained. “I’ve played pretty consistently throughout but I think the main thing is that you have to realize that everyone is going to hit bad shots and make bogeys. You just need to accept that those things are going to happen and move on.”
One of the people who has helped Na with that mindset is her caddie, Sang Lee, who was a late add to her bag after her original caddie for the week was a no show.
“He’s just a great caddie and person,” Na explained. “It was a bit of a mess trying to get things figured out early in the week but a friend got me working with Sang Lee and it’s all worked out for the best.”
Liu, who led after the first round, fired a 2-over on the Panther Course today to fall back to 2-under for the week.
“It was a hard scoring day today obviously,” Liu said. “I got slacking a little bit on the last few holes. Finished bogey, bogey and then couldn’t take advantage of the par-5. I’m happy to be where I am. The past few days weren’t great ball striking for me but I’m glad my putting has helped me pull it off.”
Stage II is a 72-hole tournament held at Plantation Golf and Country Club on both the Panther & Bobcat Courses. A total of 195 players, 60 of which advanced out of LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage I in late August at Mission Hills Country Club, will be competing to advance to final stage. The white line yardage for the Bobcat Course is 6,536 while the total yardage for the Panther Course is 6,363.
The top-80 players plus ties at the end of Sunday’s final round will advance to final stage of LPGA Q-School, which will be held at LPGA International Golf Course – Jones & Hill Courses from Wednesday, December 2 through Sunday, December 6. There is no cut at Stage II and players that complete 72 holes will automatically receive Symetra Tour status for 2016.
Players that finish in the top-20 at final stage will receive category 12 status on the priority list for the LPGA Tour while players that finish 21 through 45 will receive category 17 status (conditional).
NELLY KORDA CLIMBS INTO TOP-10: Nelly Korda (Bradenton, Fla.) jumped into the top-10 at T6 after a solid 2-under, 70, on the Bobcat Course brought her to 1-over, 145, for the week at Stage II. The 2-under was the low round of the day on either course.
“It’s a blast but it’s pretty nerve wracking too,” Korda admitted. “I settled my nerves today but yesterday was a little wild. It’s totally different from any other tournament with the nerves that you have during Q-School. You’re trying to chase your dream. It’s totally different. The nerves are way beyond expected.”
Prior to the start of Stage I, the 17-year-old Korda petitioned the LPGA for a waiver to go to Q-School in a bid to play the Symetra Tour next year. She turns 18 in July of 2016. The LPGA has a rule requiring members be 18 years old.
“I’m only allowed to do two stages so this is my final stage and to get my full card for Symetra I just need to finish inside the top-80,” Korda explained. “It’s more options. It’s a pretty good option. The girls out there play so well. I have good options, I’m going to go to college or try the Symetra Tour.”
Korda is the younger sister of four time LPGA Tour winner Jessica Korda who gave her younger sister only one key piece of advice prior to her Q-School journey.
“She just told me to stay calm. The only thing is to stay calm,” Korda said. “She knows that I’m hitting it well. The only thing is to stay calm because if you aren’t calm you are going to be hitting it everywhere and once that heart starts racing you can’t control your hands so the main thing is to stay calm and take it shot by shot.”
GABBY LOPEZ MAKES HOLE-IN-ONE EN ROUTE TO 1-UNDER ROUND: Gabby Lopez (Mexico City, Mexico) had the shot of the day on Friday as her 8-iron from 148 found the bottom of the cup for a hole-in-one on the second hole on the Panther Course.
“I hit a perfect 8-iorn to 145 and it landed three paces and went straight in,” Lopez said. “It was going towards the pin and then it disappeared all of a sudden. It was really exciting when I finally saw all of my hard work paying off.”
The ace was the fifth hole in one in Lopez’s career and second in competition. While Lopez was proud of her hole-in-one, she was just as proud posting a 1-under round of 71 which moved her up into a tie for 23rd place after two rounds.
“That proved a lot,” Lopez admitted. “It showed that I could control my emotions after that ace because today was windy and it was tough conditions especially on the Panther Course so I’m really proud of myself for believing in my ball striking and how low I could go.”
Lopez is used to competing against top flight completion in tough conditions as she has played in eight LPGA events during her young career.
“I’m really thankful to University of Arkansas and all of the sponsors at the LPGA event in Arkansas because playing that event three years in a row I’ve seen myself mature and improve every time,” Lopez said. “The first time I missed the cut. The second time I made the cut and the third time I came up with a top-30. It’s really exciting to have those opportunities as an amateur and to also play in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last year and this year and U.S. Open’s all of these opportunities motivate me to work harder towards my dream of competing out there on the LPGA.”
While she’s still an amateur and has a season left for the Razorbacks, Lopez has a chance to reach her dream of competing on the LPGA with a solid showing this week and then again at Stage III in Daytona Beach.
“I haven’t made a decision right now because there are things that I can’t control but I’m here to play my best and I’m here to try and finish in the top-20 hopefully in the next stage,” Lopez said. “Whatever happens is going to be fine. Either decision is good – turning pro or trying to win a National Championship with my team. I’m just trying to stay in what matters the most and that’s the present moment.”
SYMETRA TOUR EXPERIENCE HELPS JULIA ROTH: Julia Roth (Karlskrona, Sweden) made it through Stage II last year but is feeling much more confident in her game this time around.
“Being on the Symetra Tour for one season, I just feel like I’ve grown a lot as a player,” Roth admitted. “I’m here this year as a totally different person and a different game too. I think that I’ve learned a lot this season and I think that will help me a lot going through Q School.”
Roth shot a round of even par 72 on the Bobcat Course to move up into a tie for 23rd.
“I’m happy. Honestly I was pretty happy yesterday too after I shot 4-over,” Roth explained. “I walked off the last hole yesterday and felt like I shot the same as I did today. I just had a few bad breaks out there yesterday but today was more solid and I made a few more putts out there. It was good.”
The University of Central Arkansas grad is now 36-holes away from making it back to Stage III and taking another shot at earning her LPGA Tour Card.
“I think that Q-School is a marathon,” Roth said. “You just have to grind it out. Everybody is going to make bogeys out there so you just have to keep the same attitude if you make bogeys or birdies. It’s a lot of holes left to play so just hang in there.“