LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II
Plantation Golf and Country Club – Panther & Bobcat Courses
First-Round News & Notes
September 30, 2014
VENICE, Fla., September 30, 2014 – Brogan McKinnon (Mississauga, Ontario) is not your average professional golfer. She has several visible tattoos including one that extends up her forearm, she was homeschooled, she is Buddhist and she loves to skimboard. On Tuesday in Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at Plantation Golf and Country Club, McKinnon proved she isn’t average on the golf course either by firing a 6-under 66 to hold the 18-hole lead by three strokes.
“I putted well, putting was the big difference,” said McKinnon, who played in seven Symetra Tour events and one LPGA Tour event (Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic) in 2014. “I didn’t really miss any that I should have made.”
The 19-year-old started strong with back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes and then closed the front nine with birdies on three of her final four holes. Her only mishap was a bogey on the par-4 tenth on the Panther Course. She closed with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.
McKinnon’s success is remarkable considering two weeks ago she had to withdraw from the Symetra Tour Championship after two rounds because of a skimboarding accident. She went skimboarding on Friday night in Daytona Beach after her second round. The top of right foot was severely swollen and scrapped.
“I couldn’t walk, I limped into the mobile office and told Erin (Gasbarro) I had to WD. Then, I had to take six days off to rest my foot.”
The skimboarding accident wasn’t the first time McKinnon has been on the sidelines this year. She forced herself to leave the game in late June.
“I didn’t touch a club (from the end of June until a week before the Symetra Tour Championship from September 18-21). I didn’t like it out here. I was really struggling. I’m only 19-years-old and I didn’t go to school. I was driving tournament-to-tournament and I don’t really have any friends out here to talk to and it was super lonely. It was tough to be out here every week, especially when you’re not playing well.”
She wasn’t sure if she was going to take a week off or two months off.
“I just wanted to figure out if I really wanted to play golf. “
Two months later, she made up her mind.
“One night I just said that I have to go play because I’m not going to get any better sitting at home. Now, I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have.”
McKinnon credits her boyfriend, Wilson Bateman, who plays on the Canadian Tour with helping her get the flatstick ready.
“He has probably spent six hours with me on the putting green just this week. I couldn’t hit balls because of the injury so I have just been putting. I changed everything – my stroke, my putter and my set up and it definitely paid off today.”
McKinnon has a unique view of the skimboarding injury.
“It was definitely a blessing in disguise messing my foot up because all I could do was putt and I needed a lot of work on my putting.”
Golf has always been a major part of McKinnon’s life. She was homeschooled from grade seven forward and did most of her high school studies online in order to focus on golf.
For as long as she can remember, the LPGA Tour has been a target.
“I think my game is really close. Whether it happens this year or I play full Symetra Tour next year, I am stocked to do either.”
When you ask McKinnon if she feels like she comes from a different mold than most professional golfers, her answer is simple.
“I think I’m 19. I play golf, but I take a lot of time off. I get my work done during the day and then I chill. I guess I’m a little different.”
McKinnon also feels more relaxed this year at Q-School. She shot a 2-under 70 the first day last year, but wound up missing the cut by six strokes.
“Last year, I was pretty nervous about Stage II and I think I was in fourth after the first round and I missed the cut. I blew it and I thought it was a big deal. This year, it is more chill and I am more relaxed because I played with all these girls in the Symetra (Tour) events.”
McKinnon exits her teens on October 6 when she turns 20. She is hoping that her early birthday present is a trip to Stage III of LPGA Qualifying Tournament.
31-YEAR OLD IN FIRST Q-SCHOOL IN SECOND PLACE: Celine Herbin (Santander, Spain) is attempting to reach the LPGA Tour for the first time as a 31-year-old. She shot a 3-under 69 and is in a tie for second after day one. She is in her third season on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Why is Herbin playing in her first Qualifying Tournament at 31-years-old?
“I’m old,” said Herbin with a chuckle. “I studied biochemical engineering in France for five years and then one year as an exchange student at Bucknell University (2003-2004) and I played one year on their golf team.”
Herbin studied at INSA in Toulouse, France.
In 2011, Herbin thought about giving up on golf, but she moved to Spain and met Vicente Ballesteros, the brother of 9-time PGA TOUR winner Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros.
“I was without a coach and without category on the LET and Vicente saw me practice and he took me under his wing. Six months after I met him, I finally got my full card to play on the LET. He has been a big influence on my swing and my game over the last two years.”
Herbin grew up playing tennis, soccer and basketball in addition to golf. She actually played basketball at her university in France.
“It was a good round, I was making putts and I felt confident with my swing,” said the 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Texas – San Antonio. “My coach is here and he helped me a lot on the course and I just felt really calm out there.”
Arriaga is one of three players from Mexico in the field this week. It is no surprise that she grew up idolizing Lorena Ochoa.
“Right when I started, I used to watch Lorena a lot. She was the role model for every golfer in Mexico. I always told myself that I want to be like her.”
Arriaga has played on the Mexican National Team since she was 15-years-old and got the opportunity to play at UTSA through her national team coach.
“I’ve always wanted to play on the LPGA Tour and it is weird being here and seeing how the time has passed. I want to get to the LPGA as fast as I can, but I want to be ready.”
Family is extremely important to Arriaga, who is the first person in her family to go to college in the United States.
“I’m the only one in my family that plays a sport like this so representing my family and my country is a big deal. My dream is getting to the LPGA and that is the goal right now.”
The highlight of Arriaga’s day came on hole nine when she had 110-yards to the pin against a strong cross wind and stuck the ball within a foot.
|Player||College||Year||Rank||Stage I Finish||Stage II 1st Rd.|
|Alison Lee (a)||UCLA||Freshman||1||T4 (-5)||-1 (71) – T11|
|Stephanie Meadow||Alabama||Graduated||2||Exempt to Stage II||-1 (71) – T11|
|Annie Park (a)||USC||Sophomore||6||2 (-7)||-2 (70) – T4|
|Grace Na (a)||Pepperdine||Graduated||8||T49 (+5)||-1 (71) – T11|
|Yu Liu||Duke||Freshman||11||T7 (E)||+5 (77) – T141|
|Simin Feng (a)||Vanderbilt||Freshman||12||Exempt to Stage II||+1 (73) – T51|
|Laetitia Beck||Duke||Graduated||14||T19 (-1)||+5 (77) – T141|
|SooBin Kim (a)||Washington||Junior||15||6 (-4)||+3 (75) – T98|
|Jennifer Yang (a)||Washington||Junior||21||T54 (+6)||+8 (80) – T176|
WAGR (WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKINGS): There are six amateur golfers in the field ranked in the top 25 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). Here is a look at how they finished the first round.
|Player||Country||College||WAGR Rank||Stage II First Rd.|
|Alison Lee||USA||UCLA||2||-1 (71) – T11|
|Su-Hyun Oh||Australia||N/A||5||E (72) – T28|
|Marta Sanz||Spain||Auburn||10||-1 (71) – T11|
|Grace Na||USA||Pepperdine||14||-1 (71) – T11|
|Annie Park||USA||USA||15||-2 (70) – T4|
|Haruka Morita||Japan||N/A||18||-1 (71) – T11|
SYMETRA TOUR HELPS SEPMOREE AND WERWIE: Katelyn Sepmoree (Tyler, Texas) and Carly Werwie (Kenosha, Wisconsin) both felt their Symetra Tour season helped in round one of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II. Both carded a 2-under 70.
“My year on the Symetra Tour taught me to be patient and know there will always be tomorrow,” said Sepmoree, who finished 45th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list in her rookie season. “I feel like I’m knocking on the door, but haven’t quite knocked it down yet. Going into this year as a rookie, I had no idea what to expect so having been in those situations of being in the final group is a maturing process for me.”
Sepmoree had two top-10 finishes on the Symetra Tour including a solo third at the IOA Golf Classic in Longwood.
Meanwhile, Werwie felt improvement in her game on Symetra Tour even though her scores may not have reflected so.
“I learned to be patient this year (on Symetra Tour),” said Werwie, who played college golf at Wisconsin. “Today, I missed a birdie putt on hole 12 from three and a half feet and normally I would let that linger, but I let it go and made birdie on the next hole. I think I just realize now that there is a lot of golf left and if you get frustrated you are only going to get in your own way.”
WHAT DOES HISTORY SHOW FOR STAGE II: Plantation Golf & Country Club has hosted the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II for the last 26 years so we can learn a lot from past results. Last year, Amy Anderson (Oxbow, North Dakota) won the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II with a four-day total of 16-under 272. She blew away the field by six strokes. Jenny Suh (Fairfax, Virginia) finished second at 10-under 278.
In 2013, eleven players finished T80 at 6-over-par 294 to advance to Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament.
In 2012, Katie Burnett (Brunswick, Georgia) won Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament with a four-day total of 15-under 273 while Melissa Reid (Derby, United Kingdom) finished solo second at 9-under 279. In 2012, only the top 70 plus ties advanced to final stage. A total of 14 players finished at T63 with a four-day total of 7-over-par 295.
In 2011, Ginger Howard (Bradenton, Florida) was the medalist at Stage II of Qualifying Tournament by carding a 16-under 272. Eight players finished T65 to narrowly advance to final stage with a four-day total of 5-over-par 293.
She also made a financial decision to stay in Arizona and play a full Cactus Tour schedule. She has a job at Bear Creek Golf Course in outside services and decided to stay home in Arizona.
On Tuesday, she fired a 2-under 70 and is in a six-way tie at 2-under.
“It’s tough out there, it is wet,” said Yada, who is trying to be the first Portland State Vikings graduate to play on the LPGA Tour. “The course is playing long so lots of long irons into greens so it is tough to make birdies. Today was one of the best putting rounds I’ve had in a while.”
Yada is one of the tallest players in the field at 6-feet tall and says she wants to take advantage of her size in the future.
“My size should be an advantage, which I don’t capitalize on, but I’m working on that and plan on hitting the gym a lot. I feel like that is what is going to take me to the next level.”
Yada wants to help put Portland State golf on the map, just as Julius Thomas (Denver Broncos) and Deshawn Shead (Seattle Seahawks) did last year when they played against each other in Super Bowl XLVIII.
She took a step closer to that dream by carding a bogey-free 2-under 70 on Tuesday.
“Coming from Bolivia, I always have the Olympics on my mind because I am the only professional from Bolivia right now,” said the former Ohio State golfer. “It has never been pressure for me, but I always want to do good for Bolivia because I feel like it would be really good for the country to see someone on the LPGA.”
Benavides had a rough season on the Symetra Tour in part due to elbow tendinitis that flared up early in the season.
“This year has been really hard for me because in the tournament in California (Volvik Championship) I got elbow tendinitis and I had to withdraw. It has been hard to get back because my swing has changed so much. Because I was injured, I changed so many things in my swing without even noticing. It has been a long year.”
A trip to final stage of Qualifying School would help change her thoughts on the 2014 season.
PINRATH LOOMBOONRUANG – 1 OF 9 FROM THAILAND – SHOOTS 70: Pinrath Loomboonruang (Bangkok, Thailand), who played on the Symetra Tour in 2014, is one of nine players from Thailand in the field this week.
She fired a first round 2-under 70. Loomboonruang said she saw growth in the popularity of golf in Thailand after she returned from Qualifying School in 2013.
“I think golf in Thailand is getting stronger, we have a lot of tournaments now in Thailand,” said 18-year-old Loomboonruang. “When I went back after Q-School last year, they were all asking me how I did and this year we decided to come together.”
Pavarisa Yoktuan, also from Thailand, is just outside the top-10 at 1-under 71 (T11).
SU OH VS. MINJEE LEE RIVALRY AT Q-SCHOOL: Before Minjee Lee turned professional prior to The Evian Championship; two of the top amateurs in the world lived in Australia.
The World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) had Lee (Perth) as the No. 1 amateur in the world while Oh (Bentleigh East) is the No. 5 amateur in the world.
Both are in Stage II of LPGA Qualifying School. They both shot even-par 72 on Tuesday (T28).
In March, Oh shot a course record 9-under 65 to defeat Lee by one stroke at the Bowra & O’Dea women’s amateur event.