FIVE TIED FOR THE LEAD IN CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION
After the second round of the 2019 LPGA Professionals National Championahip at Pinehurst No. 8, five players lead the way at +6: Jordan Lintz (Milford, Conn.), defending champion Stephanie Connelly Eiswerth (Fleming Island, Fla.), first-round leader Taylor Babcock (Lake Oswego, Ore.), Seul-Ki Park (Winchester, Mass.) and Brittany Kelly (Indianapolis, Ind.). Twenty-seven players made the cut at 16-over-par.
Lintz came into the second round tied for sixth. She recorded three birdies on her front nine but fought through a double and three bogeys on the back to sit among the leaders. When she struggled on the course, she said she thought of the mantra made famous by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf alum Amy Bockerstette. “I said to myself ‘I got this. I got this.’ I’ve been working mentally to stay as positive as possible,” said Lintz. “I’ve done a better job than I ever used to do in the past – just getting over it because you can’t let it get you down next here because the next hole is just going to be just as hard. You just have to keep being positive no matter what and make a par or birdie coming in.”
Park and Eiswerth both finished in the top eight in last year’s tournament to play in the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The top eight finishers in the Championship division will earn exemptions into the 2020 major, to be held June 23-28 at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. Park said earning a spot might have weighed on her mind too much during her round of 77 on Monday, but she was able to turn things around in Tuesday’s 73.
“Instead of just playing each hole like I did today, I think yesterday I was more in the position of wondering where I was in the field,” said Park. “But I went out there today and just played, which is a lot more fun.”
SUH AND CERESKO ENJOYING DEBUT PERFORMANCES
Jenny Suh (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Ellen Ceresko (Naples, Fla.) sit tied for sixth at +7 along with Michelle Murphy (Sherrill, N.Y.) going into the final round of their first LPGA Professionals National Championship. Ceresko recorded five birdies to finish 11 shots better than her first-day score, ending the day with a 70.
“It was just all mental and the belief in myself and trusting it. I know I have the swing, but yesterday I was just maneuvering it, trying to make perfection which does not exist. Today, I decided to just look at my target, feel it and go,” said Ceresko. “I was happy with myself. My boyfriend’s on the bag and it’s nice to just enjoy the day and enjoy good golf.”
Ceresko played on the Symetra Tour and other mini tours until two years ago, when injury led her down the teaching route. “Once I started teaching, I really wasn’t geared to go back into competition. But this summer, I was like, ‘I really want to play in this event,’” said Ceresko. “I see year in and year out and see all these girls compete and get to the KPMG [Women’s PGA Championship], so I thought ‘Alright, it’s my time.’”
Suh, who is the Membership Director at the Dye Preserve in Jupiter, Fla., said she did not know what to expect coming into this year’s tournament. “Yesterday I was a totally different person. It was like I had never played golf in my life. Honestly, it’s a very challenging golf course. Even when I was playing in my prime, I didn’t think I had the shots to play this golf course better yesterday,” said Suh. “I learned my lesson today. I figured out where to land the ball on the greens and not to be an idiot and stare straight at the target. Today was hole by hole.”
Suh said even with a chance at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on the line, she still wants to have a good time on Pinehurst No. 8. “I reminded myself last night – I called my mom and said, ‘I signed up so I could have fun, and yesterday I had zero fun,’” said Suh. “I reminded myself today that it is all for fun, so it was a lot better.”
RODRIGUEZ AND MADISON LEAD IN CHALLENGE DIVISION
First-round Challenge division leader Jacqueline Madison (Stilwell, Kan.) maintained her position atop the leaderboard after the second day at the National Championship but is now joined by Annie Rodriguez (Naples, Fla.) at +10. Rodriguez said she is having a wonderful experience at Pinehurst despite some up-and-down golf.
“I think the greens are the biggest challenge in general, just finding the right landing spot and reading the putts,” said Rodriguez. “It’s fun and relaxed. Playing last year and this year, I haven’t met anyone that isn’t fun to play with. It’s a little more of a relaxed environment then other tournaments.”
Joellyn Crooks (Fuquay Varina, N.C.) is two shots back heading into the final day of play at +12. Pinehurst native and 2018 champion Charlaine Hirst sits in solo fourth at +14.
FISCHER TOPS LEADERBOARD AFTER SECOND ROUND
Jamie Fischer (Lake Forest, Ill.) took a commanding lead over the Senior Division when she posted the day’s low round of 68 to finish the second round at -4, four strokes ahead of Laura Shanahan Rowe (Hampton, N.H.) in solo second at even. Fischer said she could not be happier with her play.
“Two solid days in a row. I’m thrilled,” said Fischer. “It was fun to play. I had a great group of people to play with and it was fun. Everyone was hitting some good shots so I fed off that; it’s great.”
Rowe, who captured the Championship division title on Pinehurst No. 8 in 2008, said she played aggressively for the second consecutive day, but had a better day hitting the right clubs. “The numbers into the green were better and I made a few putts,” said Rowe. There’s a couple of holes I need revenge on and that’s it. It’s hard to duplicate what I just did.”
Lisa Grimes (Alexandria, Minn.) posted a birdie on her front nine and two bogeys on the back to finish at +1, with defending Senior division champion Barbara Moxness (Edina, Minn.) one stroke behind in fourth at +2. Moxness said her group’s efforts only aided her second-round performance.
“I hit it really close today. I probably left three putts out there inside of six feet for birdie, because I was on the wrong side of the hole and I couldn’t do what I wanted it to do,” said Moxness. “But everyone hit it close on certain holes and it was really fun.”
DEPAULO MAKES WAVES IN FIRST SENIOR DIVISION DISPLAY
Lisa DePaulo (Austin, Texas) is a frequent participant in the LPGA Professionals National Championship, even winning the Championship division in 2007 at Pinehurst. But this year is DePaulo’s first in the Senior division, a change she said paid off dividends.
“I love senior golf. It’s the greatest thing about being 50,” said DePaulo, who finished the second round in sixth at +4. “It’s nice having shorter irons into some holes and feeling like you have more birdie opportunities if you hit it well. I’ve been lucky to strength of distance, so I haven’t been falling off. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m outdriving some people, whereas back in the day I was always middle of the pack or just under middle.”
DePaulo said the course is certainly different than it was the year she won but loves to still be able to attack the course. “To take green complexes like these and take them from bentgrass to Bermuda is a drastic change, but they’re in wonderful shape. You just have to suck it up and play better.”
Tomorrow, the top eight finishers and ties in the Senior division will qualify for the 2019 Senior LPGA Championship at the French Lick Resort as well as any competitors over age 45 who finish in the top 10 in the Championship division. DePaulo is already in the field, but said this tournament is excellent preparation. “I’m just glad I know I am exempt already,” “They are the best of the seniors. You’re going to have Laura Davies there, Juli Inkster there, Trish Johnson; I just want to play well enough to be in the groups with them.”
Jordan Lintz (T1, +6) on her round today and improvements for tomorrow:
“I played really solid on my front nine. Hit a lot of fairways and good iron yardages and made some good decisions on that front nine. It really was getting a good feel for the speed of the greens. Then on the back nine, I just had some really odd shots and a couple big holes I really had to fight back from. There’s two holes on that side that mentally don’t set up very good for me, so I really have to figure out how to better approach them because they’ve killed me both days.”
Seul-Ki Park (T1, +6) on the differences of her play between the first and second round
“I was definitely hitting the ball a lot better today and carrying the right distances. Out here, because the greens and pins are tough, you’ve got to really chose a good section of the green to hit. If you’re hitting your ball well and hitting your distances, you can get yourself some two putts on the green and I think that was a big difference between yesterday and today.”
Barbara Moxness (4, +2) on heading into the final round with the pressure as defending champion
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Today was a good day for me and I’ll just keep hitting it the way I did and we’ll see what happens.”