Two players have separated themselves from the rest of the field at LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield North Carolina, as Muni He (Chengdu, China) and Hee Young Park (Seoul, Republic of Korea) have now gone 37 and 43 consecutive holes without a bogey, respectively.
He used a 2-under par 70 in the sixth round this afternoon on Pinehurst Course No. 9 to get to 18-under overall. That total is good for a two-stroke advantage over Park through 108 holes and leaves her as the only player so far to shoot under par in each round.
“It wasn't too bad,” He said about the wind. “As long as you kept it in the fairway and on the green, you were just fine. It actually did make putting very challenging today because the greens are so soft, and it gets so stepped on. On top of that, when you have gusts of wind, I think the ball can just take any grain and any bumps and run away from your line.”
As for Park, since the transition to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course she has went 11-under par. That includes a streak of no bogeys since the par-5 2nd in the fourth round on Pinehurst Course No. 6, which was her 11th hole last Saturday.
“If I played eight days in a row, would probably be super tired and I can't probably keep it up,” said Park. “After four rounds we had three days off, which is two weeks of golf tournaments I played. Mentally this is new week, new golf course. Just preparing to be fresh and then keep doing whatever I do, same thing. This is tougher I think, but it has rained and a bit more undulation on greens. Softer greens this week, so it helps. That's why I’m making a lot of birdies and not much off the greens.”
CHANG ENJOYING HOMETOWN FEEL AT PINEHURST
Jennifer Chang (Cary, North Carolina) has quite the entourage at Pinehurst No. 9 for the LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield North Carolina. A native to the Tar Heel State, Chang is back on the hallowed grounds of what is the site to one of her four high school state titles.
There’s no doubt the familiar setting provided a hometown feel and played to her advantage, as Chang continued to move up the leaderboard with a bogey-free, 4-under par 68 in the sixth round. She heads to the final stretch tied for sixth at 8-under overall.
“I played Pinehurst No. 6 and won my high school state championship there,” said Chang, who finished 3-under par last week on the George and Tom Fazio-designed track. “It definitely feels like home and I know what these courses are like, so I’m really enjoying myself.”
Currently at No. 10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Chang declared she would turn professional at the end of Q-Series and leave the University of Southern California after two years with the program. As she begins her journey to the LPGA Tour, Chang has noticed the difference in competition even though it is in a comfortable environment.
“Obviously this is next level for me, so I just want to enjoy myself but also play well at the same time,” said Chang, a two-time medalist and 2019 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-American for the Trojans.
As family and friends gathered by the scoring tent, Chang signed her scorecard and was greeted with an overwhelming support. Despite plenty of experience on the challenging Pinehurst courses, she is not getting ahead of herself at any point in the process.
“It does give me confidence going into the next two rounds, but obviously still a lot of golf left,” Chang said. “Anything can happen, so really just keeping my head down and not trying to get too comfortable. Anything, literally anything, can happen, so I'm just going to stick to my routine and enjoy myself.”
81 PLAYERS MAKE CUT, 45 AT 2-OVER PAR OR BETTER
Competing in a total of eight rounds over two, four-day segments, the top-45 finishers and ties at LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina receive Category 14 membership on the LPGA Tour Priority List for 2020. Individuals in that range, but outside the top-20 and ties also earn Category C status on the Symetra Tour.
With the sixth round now complete, a total of 81 players made the cut of 15-over par and will tee it up for the final 36 holes of tournament action. Meanwhile, exactly 45 individuals sit at 2-over par or better. The unofficial purse of $150,000 is set to be distributed at event’s completion.
“I prefer No. 9 better, kind of struggled with my putting on No. 6 last week and was stressed out,” said Haeji Kang (Seoul, Republic of Korea), who fired a 7-under par 65 with nine birdies to jump into a tie for sixth at 8-under overall. “Coming over here and putting like this makes my confidence higher. I think it is really good for my golf game.”
NOTABLE QUOTESYealimi Noh (-11, 3rd) on finding a groove after a tough first hole:
“It wasn’t my ideal start, but I was able to bounce back with a birdie on the next hole. It’s kind of weird, because I don’t believe in jinxes or superstitions. I try not to. When I started with a [double] bogey, I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t really know this kind of feeling,’ since I’ve never really started with a double. I had peace of mind, it was really weird. I bounced back and then just really steady throughout the round and on the ninth hole, I was able to birdie and get back to even.”
Kelly Tan (-9, T4) on her consistency through six rounds at Pinehurst Resort:
“It’s Q-Series, just got to stay in it. You never know what’s going to happen the next day or five days, the however many days. I came in here with the mentality of being patient and giving myself good chances because I know that I’m hitting the ball good. I really like where I’m at, and I’m looking forward to next two days.
Albane Valenzuela (-7, T8) on balancing her college responsibilities and Q-Series:
“I tried to do as little as I could, but just trying to keep up with schoolwork. I think it also kept my mind away from the golf course, so it was a good balance. I’m supposed to have a midterm today and don’t know how that’s going to go. We’ll see, but trying to do as much as I can and focus on school, golf, then relax as much as possible.”
Bianca Pagdanganan (-2, T27) on balancing her college responsibilities and Q-Series:“It has been a weird couple of days. I would say I struggled a lot with ball striking last week, but my short game was decent. This week I finally got my ball striking together, but putting wasn't there with me and today was the day that putts actually dropped. I really think it was a long time coming and definitely had to stay patient out there. I've been kind of desperate for a good round because I've been hitting good shots, but couldn't convert any into birdies. I can breathe a lot better and sleep a little better tonight.”
PLAYER NOTESMuni He
- He, 20, is a native of Chengdu, China
- University of Southern California alumna
- Played 21 events as a Symetra Tour rookie in 2018, advancing to the weekend 16 times earning two top-10s and her first professional title at inaugural Prasco Charity Championship
- Finished T27 at inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status for 2019 LPGA season
- Career-best finish on the LPGA Tour is T27 at the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational with playing partner P.K. Kongkraphan
- Made eight cuts in 19 events on the big stage in 2019 as a rookie with her highest result in stroke play being T35 at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open