A second straight day in the 60s vaulted Riley Rennell (Columbia, Tennessee) atop the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage I leaderboard at 8-under par overall. She carded a 3-under par 69 today on Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club to hold the 36-hole advantage by one stroke.
“My goal coming in today was to keep moving forward,” said Rennell. “I played the first 34 holes of this tournament bogey-free and also played the last couple this afternoon well, but unfortunately dropped a couple shots. The plan for round three is to stay in the present for every shot and control what I can control. I’m having a blast out here and the experience is really exciting.”
The low round of the day from the Dinah Shore Tournament Course and Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Mission Hills Country Club was shared by Gabby Lemieux (Caldwell, Idaho) and Bianca Pagdanganan (Quezon City, Philippines) of 5-under par 67. They are two of the four competitors just one shot back of the lead at 7-under par overall.
A member of the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship team at the University of Arizona, there has been a healthy sense of nerves rather than unwanted pressure helping Pagdanganan get into this position.
“It’s obviously pretty intense and kind of nerve-racking because you’re up against good golfers, not just anyone playing out here,” said Pagdanganan, who recorded her strong second round on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. "I’m excited for the next stage of my life and this is what I’ve been working toward since I was little. I don’t put much pressure on myself, rather stay relaxed and not think about the score. Just want to enjoy the whole process.”
Meanwhile, Lemieux went low on the Arnold Palmer Signature Course. Between her experiences as a tournament sponsor exemption at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July, and the last two Symetra Tour events of PHC Classic and FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship where she recorded consecutive top-15 finishes, the Texas Tech University alumna has learned to more than hold her own.
“I played in the LPGA event a couple months back and it was an eye-opener of what I needed to work on,” Lemieux said. “That is where I practiced more to prepare for the Symetra Tour events, and also WAPT tournaments. I was able to throw some good numbers down on the WAPT, so I was feeling good going into Symetra. The only thing I changed was playing offense, instead of defense. From going for every par-5 that I could to aiming right at the pin, those are the differences from last year to this year.”
A total of 84 players concluded round two at 1-over par overall or better, while 153 competitors are at 4-over par overall or better. Third round action picks up tomorrow at 7:15 a.m. PDT with individuals venturing onto their final course according to the rotation of Dinah Shore-Arnold Palmer-Shadow Ridge.
Ana Ruiz (-7, T2) on being tied for second after 36 holes:
“I love being in this position so far on the leaderboard. This is something I have been working hard for all year. It is good momentum to shoot under par again. I’m very excited to play Dinah [Shore Tournament] Course tomorrow, which is one of my favorite golf courses.”
Allie Knight (-6, T6) on her mentality and path to this point:
“It feels good to have a cushion after the first two rounds. Been thinking about trying to win, not the cut at all and instead what I need to shoot to win. That has been the mentality. I got into one Symetra Tour event recently in Milwaukee. Did well there and made the cut, but wasn’t enough to avoid Stage I. Also played in State Opens and the Eggland’s Best [Pro Tour] to prepare for this, stay golf ready. Working as well at Tennessee National, worked out really hard last winter to gain distance including meditating and yoga. It’s all paying off, definitely.”
Brittany Fan (-6, T6) on her gameplan for the final two rounds:
“I’m excited to be near the top of the leaderboard. My focus for weekend rounds will be pretty much the same as the first two days—make as many birdies as possible, have fun and stay positive. Everything will take care of itself. The more you ‘try’ to do something, the more pressure you put on yourself. I’m just going to go out and keep grinding away.”