On day two at LPGA International, Marissa Steen (West Chester, Ohio) steered her way to the top of the leaderboard with a 5-under par (67), tied for the best score in the second round and overall so far at the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament.
At 6-under for the tournament, Steen looks down at the rest of the field after her bogey-free afternoon on the Jones Course.
“When writing in the hole locations last night, I knew I was going to have to be patient because the greens are really firm since they are new,” said Steen, one of 72 players in the field that held LPGA status in 2017. “I thought quite a few of the holes were tucked today. My game plan was just to come in, be patient, hit a lot of greens and make a lot of pars.”
The other round of the day belonged to Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Israel), as she also carded a bogey-free 67 on the Jones Course. Heading into the third round, Beck is one of eight individuals tied for eighth at 2-under.
“I knew I had a low round in me,” Beck said. “I was hoping to make a few more putts, so that was a little frustrating. But, if I can keep up with the way I played today, I will be really happy.”
While Steen and Beck turned in masterful performances, it was a tough day on the field as a whole. Just like the first round, only eight players shot in the 60s during the second round.
Furthermore, the five competitors tied for the lead after round one shot a combined 21-over on Thursday. The only player to shoot in the red from that group was Nasa Hataoka (Ibaraki, Japan), who went 1-under on the Hills Course, and is in second place at 5-under overall.
“Hitting it really good, I just need to make more putts tomorrow,” said Hataoka. “The Jones Course is really firmer than Hills. Make sure of the landing spot and just try [and aim for] the front side of greens and in.”
Close on the heels of Steen and Hataoka is Leticia Ras-Anderica (Konstanz, Germany). She sits in third at 4-under after firing a second straight round of 2-under, today playing on the Jones Course.
A group of four is tied for fourth at 3-under overall including one of the first round leaders, Hyemin Kim (Seoul, Republic of Korea), who shot 1-over on the Jones Course.
Also in that mix is Paula Reto (Bloemfontein, South Africa) after staying steady in round two with an even par on the Hills Course.
“If I just kind of keep it simple for me and not worry about scoring and all that and just think about my pre-shot routine, it kind of takes care of the result,” Reto said. “Three more days, so it’s still a marathon.”
Maddie McCrary (Wylie, Texas) and Jillian Hollis (Rocky River, Ohio) are the low amateurs in the field through two days, and both are in the group tied for eighth at 2-under.
“The first two stages were only four days, so I knew I had to pace myself for those,” said McCrary, who carded a 2-under (70) today on the Jones Course. “In this stage, you really have to pace yourself. It’s a mental game for sure. I just have to stay with it.”
Finally, after rough opening rounds, Georgia Hall (Wimborne, England) and Linnea Ström (Gothenburg, Sweden) both bounced back to form in round two. Hall, the top ranked player in the field at No. 41 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, is now tied for 43rd at 2-over following a 3-under (69) on the Hills Course. Meanwhile, Ström, No. 9 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings, finished at 1-under on the Jones Course and is tied for 110th at 7-over.
MADDIE MCRARY MAKES WAVES IN Q-SCHOOL DEBUT
Oklahoma State senior golfer and amateur Maddie McCrary fired a 2-under par (70) in the second round and is in great position for her LPGA Tour card as she sits in the top-eight with three days to go.
McCrary has two career starts on the LPGA Tour under her belt at the 2015 and 2017 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, earning her spot through the annual High School/College Shootout.
While she missed both cuts in those starts, McCrary said she feels equipped to handle herself at Qualifying School thanks to those experiences.
“It’s prepared me a lot,” she said. “The greens are a lot firmer out here. I know where I need to work—around the greens, just short little chip shots have helped me tremendously.”
With her parents in the gallery watching this week and her coach on the bag, there’s one other familiar element for McCrary that has made an appearance at LPGA International during the final stage: wind.
“The wind blows here and in Oklahoma, so I’m well prepared for it,” said the Wylie, Texas native after finishing her round on the Jones Course, which has experienced sustained 15 mph winds throughout the week.
This is McCrary’s first time at Q-School, but the 21-year-old has momentum on her side as she’s fresh off a stellar fall campaign in the college ranks. The Cowgirls phenom led OSU to the team title at their first fall tournament with a tied for fifth finish. In her next start, McCrary took home the Windy City Collegiate Classic individual championship—her first title in an Oklahoma State uniform. To round out her fall season, she led OSU with another top 10 finish at the Landfall Tradition.
While McCrary rightfully takes a lot of pride in her Oklahoma State career, her plans this week for Q-School are simple.
“If I’m top 20, I’m going to turn pro,” said McCrary. “We’ll just see where it goes.”
KIM WANTS TO DONATE AT THE NEXT LEVEL
Symetra Tour player Hyemin Kim (Seoul, Republic of Korea) made headlines earlier this year after capturing her first professional victory, and not just for her accomplishments on the course.
Kim announced shortly after winning the POC Med Golf Classic that she would be donating her entire winner’s check of $15,000 to LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.
“My mom (Inja Park) and I always talked about donating the paycheck from my first win to charity,” Kim explained after announcing the donation. “I remember growing up in Korea and first being introduced to the game. I just want to help the next generation of girls and my hope is that this donation helps bring more girls to golf that don’t have the means on their own.”
Kim calls herself shy and didn’t tell many of her friends about her donation at the time. After the Symetra Tour made an announcement of her generosity, Kim said she was surprised at the amount of praise she received from media and other players on Tour.
“I didn’t expect that I would have much attention. I felt a lot of pressure after that,” said Kim. “Of course, if I have more chances, I want to do that more and more.”
Kim has been a mainstay on the Symetra Tour since her rookie season in 2012 and is making her third appearance at Stage III this week. The 29-year-old has her sights set on securing a 2018 LPGA Tour card, and is in a good position through days as she is tied for fourth at 3-under par.
So, if she makes it to the LPGA, would she donate her winnings again after collecting her first LPGA win?
“Yeah, that’s my goal,” said Kim.
- Of the 27 players in the top 20 through two rounds, 11 players would be rookies on the LPGA Tour: Leticia Ras-Anderica, Hyemin Kim, Rebecca Artis, Maddie McCrary (a), Jillian Hollis (a), Lori Beth Adams, Tiffany Chan, Luna Sobron Galmes, Maria Torres (a), Mind Muangkhumsakul and Charlotte Thomas.
- The top seven players on the leaderboard hail from seven different countries: United States, Japan, Germany, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Australia and Canada.
- Players in the top 20 have combined for 16 victories on the Symetra Tour: Vicky Hurst (6), Cindy LaCrosse (3), Marissa Steen (2), Sadena Parks (2), Hyemin Kim (1), Daniela Darquea (1) and Nannette Hill (1).
- American players have won medalist honors in three of the last four Qualifying Schools: Jaye Marie Green in 2016 and 2013, and Alison Lee in 2014.