Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament
LPGA International – Jones & Hills Courses
Daytona Beach, Florida
First-Round News & Notes
December 3, 2014
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., December 3, 2014 – Casey Grice (College Station, Texas) holds a one shot lead after the first 18 holes of the Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Grice, who spent her 2014 season competing on the Symetra Tour, shot a bogey-free round of 66 on the Jones Course to hold the advantage over a trio of players.
“It was solid,” Grice said. “I have good memories of this course from the Symetra Tour Championship so it was fun to be back.” Grice, a UNC grad, finished in a tie for fourth at the Symetra Tour Championship, a single stroke out of the three-person playoff. A victory at the event would have given Grice a top-10 finish on the Symetra Tour Volvik Race for the Card money list and her 2015 LPGA Tour Card, however the solid finish secured her spot in the field at Stage III where she again has a shot to achieve her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.
“It was cool to have an opportunity to get my card at the Symetra Tour Championship, but now I have another opportunity for my card here,” Grice explained. “I just really like this course so it was good to start my week off with a bang.”
The 2014 Symetra Tour rookie had an impressive debut year on the Road to the LPGA finishing the season 24th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and receiving the ANNIKA Academy Elite Athlete Award, which is given to the player who best demonstrated the same “Winning Approach” philosophy, which Annika Sorenstam used during her playing days. While Grice has been honing her game on the Symetra Tour, she knows that this five-day week will require a different approach.
“This is definitely a marathon tournament,” Grice admitted. “It’s not just a normal three-day event like we have out on Symetra. I’m just going to take it easy and not really think about golf in the afternoons and just go out and play the same way. I’m confident in the way I’m playing now and I just have to keep it up, pick my shots and stay patient. This week is all about patience for sure.”
In close pursuit of Grice, sitting at 5-under, are Ryan O’Toole (San Clamente, Calif.), who also played the Jones Course, Ju Young Park (Seoul, South Korea) and Maria Hernandez (Pamplona, Spain), who played the Hills Course.
JU YOUNG INSPIRED BY HEE YOUNG: Ju Young Park (Seoul, South Korea) remembers the moment well when she was inspired to play on the LPGA Tour. It was when her sister, Hee Young Park, won her first LPGA Tour event – the 2011 CME Group Titleholders.
“She’s not a role model,” said Ju Young jokingly about her sister. “She is such an inspiration and such a motivating factor. When I heard that my sister won on the LPGA Tour something triggered in my heart and I wanted to be as good and play alongside my sister.”
Ju Young is headed in the right direction after a 5-under 67 on Wednesday even with a slight head cold.
“I played safe and made sure I was on the green and that lead me to a good result.” Ju Young started playing on the KLPGA nearly five years ago – the same time her sister left to play on the LPGA Tour. It would be a dream to reunite on the same Tour.
“We’ve never actually played on the same Tour together,” said Ju Young, who made seven birdies on the day. “Hee Young started earlier so when I got to the KLPGA she got to the LPGA. It’s going to be fun to play on the LPGA Tour with my sister.”
Ju Young is part of a strong South Korean contingent at Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament with 11 players.
“Korean golfers start at a young age and they practice quite a bit,” said Ju Young. “Our basic elements are quite solid and we add on as we get experience and that is why there are so many Koreans in the field this week.”
CHEYENNE WOODS STARTS STRONG: Cheyenne Woods (Phoenix, Ariz.) finds herself in a good position after an opening-round 68 has her tied for fifth following day one play.
“I felt like everything was really solid,” Woods said. “I made a few saves coming in with my putter. I think I had 25 putts today so that definitely helped. Overall, I hit the ball well and kept it in play and I had five birdies.”
Woods tallied five birdies against a lone bogey on her round at the Jones Course to sit at 4-under, two-strokes back of leader Casey Grice.
“It’s a long week,” Woods admitted. “This is just day one so tomorrow I’ll go into it the same way playing my own game and playing it one hole at a time. I’m not trying to worry about the scores or who else is shooting what because in the end you have to play your own game. Tomorrow is a different course so I’ll have to adjust with that but overall it’s just about staying patient out there.”
The Wake Forest product has had a busy 2014 season competing in events on the LPGA, Symetra Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET), where she took home a win at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters. During the busy season, Woods rarely found herself in her Phoenix home something she was able to take advantage of during her time between Stage II and Stage III when she spent nearly a month back in Arizona.
“It’s amazing,” Woods said of being at home. “There’s no better feeling than being in your own bed and having your family and friends around. To call it home and to actually be there is nice. I definitely take advantage of any time that I do have at home. When I’m home I’m not really out and about I’m just at home in my bed. It sounds really lame, but it feels so good to just have that time to yourself.”
NEARLY TEN YEARS LATER KIM WON’T SOON FORGET 2005: Birdie Kim (Seoul, South Korea) will always be remembered for her green-side bunker shot on the 18th hole at Cherry Hills Country Club that propelled her to the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open title.
“I remember making the shot from the bunker on the last hole,” said Kim after an even-par 72 in round one on Wednesday. “It’s been close to ten years now and I’m still playing and looking for better things to come in the future. It’s still great memories for me, but I am looking forward now.”
In 2013, Kim nearly secured full-time LPGA Tour membership through Qualifying Tournament, but finished in a tie for 23rd. Kim still believes that she can return to major championship form.
“Of course I still have goals to win on the LPGA,” said Kim. “There would be no reason to keep playing at Q-School if I didn’t want to win.”
THREE MONTHS OFF SUITING VICKY HURST WELL: The last time LPGA Tour fans saw Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Fla.) was at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She had to withdraw due to a wrist injury.
On Wednesday, Hurst returned to competitive golf and fired a 1-under 71 to put herself in position for a good week.
“It has been four months since I have played a competitive round so it was good to get back into it and play with a little bit of pressure,” said Hurst, who carded four birdies and three bogeys. “I thought I was going to be a little more nervous, but I wasn’t bad at all.”
The wrist injury that Hurst suffered started to nag her two years ago. She had two cists and had a tear in her TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage
“Overall, the wrist had just had enough, but I feel a lot better now,” said Hurst. “The injection took the pain from a nine to about a two pretty quickly. I’m still taping it and icing it, but it is a lot better now.”
During her time away from golf, Hurst said she had more of a social life, but also took online classes at Northeastern University.
“I just took a couple classes to pass the time and keep the brain cells working,” said Hurst with a smile. “It was really fun and I want to take more classes so after this week I am going to think about what other classes I want to take.”
HOW THE ROLEX WOMEN’S WORLD GOLF RANKINGS TOP 100 FARED
Player Rolex WWGR 1st Rd. Position
Ha Na Jang (Seoul, South Korea) No. 25 +2 (74) T88
Charley Hull (Kettering, England) No. 37 +3 (75) T105
Sei Young Kim (Seoul, South Korea) No. 40 -3 (69) T7
Sakura Yokomine (Kanoya, Japan) No. 44 +1 (73) T72
Minjee Lee (Perth, Australia) No. 82 E (72) T46
Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand) No. 91 +1 (73) T72
Valentine Derrey (Ciboure, France) No. 100 E (72) T46