France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard yet again gave Highland Oaks a 1-2 punch in round seven of LPGA Q-Series. The 21-year-old fired a 5-under 67 that included an ace on No. 13 with a pitching wedge in hand to continue her streak of rounds in the 60s that began with round one in Mobile. In addition to the hole-in-one, her first in ten years, Roussin-Bouchard also carded three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 11th and maintains a three-shot lead for medalist honors with 18 holes left to play.
“During the practice round, we were joking around with my caddie, coach, physio, that I didn't have a hole-in-one for the last 10 years,” she said. “And I said, ‘This is the perfect week to have one.’ I hit it pretty close to the pin last week and this week, so I mean it was just perfect yardage, perfect shape, perfect backspin.”
Her ace is Roussin-Bouchard’s fourth in competition and the fifth one of her career, and when she plucked the ball out of the hole, there was one person it was going to be signed and given to, her physio Francois. “I said, ‘Pour Francois’, which means for Francois, so for my physio. Because we said, on the practice round, if I have a hole-in-one this week I would give him the ball,” said the Frenchwoman. “So I signed the ball, gave it to him.”
With one round remaining and sitting at -32, it appears that Roussin-Bouchard has safely locked up LPGA Tour status, but she’s not getting ahead of herself while staying in the moment ahead of round eight. “I've been working hard for these two weeks for the last couple of years since I've been in the U.S.,” she said of her preparation for Q-Series. “I've been working on every aspect of my game and even when I feel I'm lacking something, I have other keys to rely on. So even if I'm 70 percent of my game, I can be a hundred percent of that 70 percent. The last seven rounds it was just solid putting, solid approach shots especially and solid driving.”
Korea’s Na Rin An fired a 2-under 70 to post at -27 and sits five shots back of the lead. She made five birdies and one bogey, closing with a double on the par-4 18th, but is pleased overall with her performance in this grueling marathon of golf.
“Today wasn't a bad day,” she said of her Saturday effort. “Despite the wind, I think I played pretty well. Looking back at the past seven rounds I think I played okay. I tried to hit my shots as low as possible and I'm happy that we were able to avoid the rain. I'm happy to know that we are getting to the end of this long eight rounds and when everything is over I would just like to rest.”
Ladies European Tour Player and Rookie of the Year Atthaya Thitikul rounds out the top three at -23. She posted a rollercoaster 71, highlighted by five birdies on the back nine but also two bogeys and a double.
“I would say I'm tired, but it's not really that,” said the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol winner. “I'm a golfer and I golf a lot, that's why we kind of play like week after week after week. But I'm glad that I'm going to finish tomorrow. I know it's just only tomorrow 18 holes left and then I know I have a lot of chances to make it now so there won’t be a difference in my game plan or mindset. Just keep doing your best out there, just keep making birdies to boost your confidence out there to be able to get on the LPGA Tour.”
Peiyun Chien of Chinese Taipei currently sits in fourth at -18 and there are five players in a tie for fifth at -16, including three-time CLPGA winner Ruoning Yin, Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 14 Ayaka Furue and KLPGA winner Hye-Jin Choi. Dewi Weber of the Netherlands completes the top 10 at -15 after a Saturday 71. Currently, 48 players are within the top 45 and ties at -4 or better in pursuit of LPGA Tour status for 2022.