With 18 holes in the books at Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Huize Lian (Dalian, China) paces the 339-player field after carding a bogey-free, 7-under par 65 at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
“I got a nice round today, hitting well, putting good and playing happy. Looking forward I am focusing on just eating well, getting nice rest and fight against the weather tomorrow,” said Lian.
French amateur Agathe Laisne (Paris, France) is one stroke off the lead thanks to a 6-under 66 on the Pete Dye Course at Mission Hills Country Club. Close behind her is a quartet at –5 in Kirsty Hodgkins (Redcliffe, Australia), Naomi Ko (Victoria, British Columbia), Emily Mahar (Brisbane, Australia) and Ferris State University alumna Destiny Lawson (Ocala, Florida).
“I really just stayed in the moment each shot and took it one at a time. It was a little windy today, which I thought was going to be a test but didn’t really feel like it was. I turned pro in April and finished my degree at Ferris State. I played a couple LPGA Qualifiers and won the event ahead of Pure Silk to enter my first LPGA event which was huge to accomplish. I went back home to Florida and then was going to play in the Marathon qualifier but came down with COVID,” said Lawson. “It didn’t hit me too bad. It was mainly the mental aspect of it that was a challenge, to go through 10 days of quarantine and not hit balls and redirect my attention to other aspects of my life. Once I came out of it, I felt great and it made me appreciate this game a lot more, realizing I wasn’t able to play for 10 days. Then I came out here on July 25 to start prepping for this week.”
The low round of the day from the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club came from Amelia Garvey (Los Angeles, California). She is currently tied for seventh, just three shots back of the lead following her 4-under par 68.
“It’s nice to get up on the leaderboard early on. I played well, nothing spectacular, but I finished really well with the wind dying down and coming in I took advantage of it,” said Garvey. “The main person that I spoke to [leading up to this week] was Patty Tavatanakit, who won here earlier this year at the ANA Inspiration, she’s my best mate. I was definitely reaching out to her to see how to approach this course and it seems like it paid off.”
Joining Garvey in a share of seventh are eight additional players including Camila Serrano (Bogota, Columbia), who claimed a season-best finish on the Women’s All Pro Tour of a tie for 11th at the WLN Central Arkansas Open, as well as Hyo Joon Jang (Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida).
“Today my irons were pretty good, so I had good green in regulations. That made it easier for me today. Also, had great teamwork with my caddy who is my [swing] coach. I will keep it going for the rest of the rounds,” said Jang. “Definitely keep working on my energy. Food, sleep, working out and practice time, but try to not burn out before the end of the tournament, especially in this heat.”
A total of 103 players concluded round one at even par or better, while 173 competitors are at 2-over par or better. Second-round action picks up tomorrow at 7:15 a.m. PDT with individuals venturing onto a new course according to the rotation of Dinah Shore-Pete Dye-Shadow Ridge.
Naomi Ko (-5, T3) on having her dad as her caddy this week:
“I started off the day with four birdies in a row that I think helped keep the momentum going. I was just striking the ball well and made the putts when I gave myself birdie chances. I know each course plays different and requires different strategy off the tee, but my approach is going to stay the same and keep it on the fairways. My dad is caddying for me and helps me a lot on the course. He plays himself, so he understands how to read the greens, course management, which helps and is nice to have this week.”
Kirsty Hodgkins (-5, T3) on the mental side of the game for Stage I:
“Super happy to put a good score down for round one. It’s been a couple months since my last tournament, so there were no expectations heading into today, just to try and hit some good shots and see what happens. Regarding the rest of the week, there is still a lot of golf to be played so my mentality is still the same: try and hit good shots and see what happens. The courses all look in fantastic shape, so I’m excited to get out on Dinah tomorrow.”
Libby Winans (-3, T16) on playing as an amateur and her mentality entering Q-School:
“Entering this week, my mentality was to go play my best no matter who I’m up against. I’ve worked hard on building confidence up to this week, so I could go play relaxed. I want to prove to myself that I belong out here no matter who the competition is. Honestly, all aspects of my game felt the strongest they’ve ever felt leading up to this week. I’ve made some changes over the putter however, and finally got to see some positive results on the greens today. I hope to just keep seeing the ball go in the hole.”
Camden Morrison (-3, T16) on getting back into competition mode after breaks due to COVID-19:
“I was pretty nervous. I haven’t gotten to play a lot. I am sure not a lot of people have been able to because of COVID, but I was nervous. I would say I played smart though. I played on the more conservative side and strategized myself around the course and stayed in the moment. [To prepare] I was playing a lot of golf with members and guys I work with back home at Tedesco Country Club. I was working on the parts of my game I knew needed work and maintaining the other parts that might not need as much focus. I took a very relaxed approach and really am focusing on watching the ball go in the hole and building confidence.”