RANCHO MIRAGE, California, August 26, 2017 - Linnea Strom (Gothenburg, Sweden), one of the top rising juniors in the country, and Stacy Bregman (Johannesburg, South Africa), a veteran of the Ladies European Tour, share the 54-hole lead at LPGA Qualifying School Stage I after strong third rounds on Saturday. Strom carded a 5-under, 67 on the Dinah Shore Course while Bregman posted a 68 on the Gary Player Course. The pair are 11-under, 205 and barring collapse will advance. Soo Jin Lee (Sydney, Australia) and Janie Jackson (Huntsville, Alabama) share third place at 10-under, 206.
The third-round cut was made at 4-over, 220 and 143 players will tee it up on the Dinah Shore Course on Sunday with the low 90 and ties advancing to Stage II, which will take place October 18-22 in Venice, Florida.
Strom, a major part of the 2017 NCAA national championship team at Arizona State, has turned in three solid rounds of 69-69-67.
“In general, I’m a good ball-striker and that is helping me this week because the courses are playing long,” said Strom, who doesn’t turn 21 until October. “I’ve been hitting my driver perfect and that gives me a lot of opportunities.”
Strom has made just two bogeys through 54 holes.
The two-time WGCA First-Team All-American has two years of eligibility left at Arizona State and has not made any decision as to what she will do. In a care-free way, she signed up to play Qualifying School to really just see where she stood after two strong years of college golf.
“People ask what my plan is a lot and honestly I just want to see how I do,” said Strom. “I just wanted to try and see because I’ve really played well in college. I’m playing without any pressure because I know I still have college golf to go back to.”
Strom praised her college coaches, Missy Farr-Kaye and Michelle Estill, and said if the time comes when she needs to make a decision, she will have open dialogue with them.
“I’m not sure, we will see,” said Strom, when asked what she would do if she earned LPGA status. “I really enjoy college and I have a great opportunity, but at the same time I am very excited for the next stage of my career.”
“I have an open communication with my college coach because I have heard some stories from others that don’t,” continued Strom. “I’m 100 percent honest with my coach.”
Strom first picked up golf when she was about 11. That same year, she played in the Annika Cup in Sweden and got to meet Annika Sorenstam. She also was quick to point out that Anna Nordqvist and Madelene Sagstrom are two others she looks up to. In particular Sagstrom because she is closer in age and they played on the national team together.
“What she did last year on the Symetra Tour was amazing,” said Strom about Sagstrom, who won three times in 2016 and was the Symetra Player of the Year. “She never changed one bit as a person and she is someone I look up to.”
Strom also gave credit to her British coach, Ola Lindgren, who lives in Sweden. He coaches several of the men’s national team players including her brother, Adam, who is finishing up his masters and golfing career at Sam Houston State.
Strom is one of two WGCA First-Team All-Americans in the field this week. She is the No. 11 ranked amateur in the world according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She would likely be the leader of Arizona State next year if she returns. The Sun Devils will be without individual national champion Monica Vaughn, who graduated in May.
Bregman, 30, is playing in her fourth LPGA Qualifying School and desperately wants a crack at the LPGA on a full-time basis.
“I want it pretty bad,” said Bregman. “I have played in quite a few majors and I know I can compete with the girls. I want to play in the states on the LPGA. It’s a dream of mine to play on the best tour in the world.”
Bregman has only played in five Ladies European Tour events this year and said staying fresh for Qualifying School has been a challenge.
“It’s been really difficult to stay competitive,” explained Bregman. “Two months of playing and then I’m not playing. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my coaches to try and stay fresh.”
The South African has played in the Ricoh Women’s British Open five times and has played in seven events co-sanctioned by the LPGA.
She ranks 62nd on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit this year and has 21 career top 10’s in Europe.
“I have been hitting it pretty decent and my short game has been great,” said Bregman, who has posted rounds of 69-68-68. “Hopefully this is the year for me.”
Bregman heaped praise on her caddy, Terry Johnson, who is a local member at Mission Hills Country Club.
BACK IN THE GAHM FOR LINDSAY GAHMLindsay Gahm (Louisville, Ky.) experienced true heartbreak last year just one week before Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying School. She had to withdraw in order to have surgery on her left wrist to alleviate the tendinitis. She hasn’t played competitively this year.
“It was really tough, having to withdraw the week before when I felt really good,” said Gahm, who is in a tie for fifth. “I felt like I was really close to breaking through and getting on the LPGA. I was happy to learn that I haven’t lost too much ground. It hasn’t been too difficult trying to get back and honestly, I’m just happy I’m playing again.
Gahm just starting playing again full-time a month ago. She was out from December of 2016 through June of 2017. In order to pass the time and make some extra money, she began caddying.
“The wrist is much better than it was,” said Gahm, who has been dealing with the tendinitis for a number of years. “I have my days some times. It is way better than it was the last year.”
She is back and proving that she is ready to restart her professional career, which began in 2015. Gahm has posted rounds of 68-70-69.
“I’m very pleased, especially because I didn’t know how I would feel,” said Gahm. “I have only been playing for a month.”