LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage I
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
August 26, 2014
Round One News and Notes
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (August 26, 2014) – This week, 285 players will begin their quests for their 2015 LPGA Tour Cards at Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The Rancho Mirage Qualifier is the first of the LPGA Tour’s three qualifying events in 2014. The top-100 players and ties from this week will advance to the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., from Sept. 30 – Oct. 4. A minimum of the top 80 and ties from Stage II will advance into the Final Qualifying Tournament.
Stage III of LPGA Q-School will be contested over 90 holes Dec. 3-7, at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Top finishers in the final stage will earn 2015 LPGA membership.
LIZ NAGEL HAS LOW ROUND OF THE DAY: Liz Nagel got off to a hot start with birdies on five of her first six holes and didn’t look back en route to a day one 66, the low round of the day.
“It’s mostly about obviously advancing,” Nagel said of her approach to the week. “With so many girls it’s really just about you and the golf course. We call it our own little bubble and we just tried to stay in our bubble and worry about ourselves. I obviously can’t control what 280 other girls are doing so I just wanted to do my best. We said a lot of pars and sprinkle in some birdies and I made eight birdies which was great. My putts were falling so it was fun and just steady.”
Nagel, who started on the back nine of the 6,525 yard, Palmer Course, birdied holes 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 against a lone bogey on 12 to turn in 32. Nagel’s flatstick was hot on the front nine as she started her day with six-consecutive one putts. On her second nine, Nagel posted three additional birdies against another lone bogey for a 34 to wrap up the impressive opening round 66.
A recent graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Hospitality Business, Nagel has been taking advantage of her MSU connections as several of her past Spartan teammates have gone through the Qualifying School process in recent years.
“I’ve talked to a few of them. I talked to Caroline Powers, who is on the Symetra Tour now, and she just said the same things I’ve said just make a lot of pars, sprinkle in your birdies and avoid big mistakes,” Nagel explained. “She’s good so I’ll probably call her tonight and see what she says now. We’re really good friends so it’s good to have her in my camp.”
While Nagel has been relying on her fellow Spartans for advice she can also look over her shoulder to the man on her bag, her father John.
“He’s been on the bag for me for a while, since junior golf, so it’s a comfort thing. In college I didn’t have a caddie so it’s good to have him back as I move on to the next chapter of golf.”
Nagel has battled more than just the struggles of an average golfer to get to this chapter of her golfing career as she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in November 2012 and had surgery in late December 2012. Nagel, whose cancer is now in remission, only missed the first tournament of the 2013 spring season due to treatments and was in the starting lineup the remainder of the season.
After her senior season, Nagel was honored as the 2014 Kim Moore Spirit Award recipient by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. The award is given annually to recognize and honor a student-athlete or coach who exemplifies a great spirit toward the game of golf, a positive attitude on and off the golf course, a role model for her team and mental toughness in facing challenges.
DINAH SHORE TROPHY WINNER EMILY TUBERT HAS LOW ROUND ON DINAH SHORE COURSE: Earlier this summer, Emily Tubert was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Dinah Shore Trophy. Today, Tubert was at Mission Hills shooting a 68, the low round of the day on the 6,544 yard Dinah Shore course, during the opening round of Stage I of Qualifying School.
“I feel like I just played really solid today,” Tubert said. “I really like the Dinah course. I feel like it sets up for my game pretty well.”
Tubert didn’t get off to a great start with a bogey on the 10th, her first hole of the day, but the Arkansas grad turned things around and caught fire right before the turn reeling off four consecutive brides on holes 18, 1, 2 and 3. A bogey on the par-4 7th dropped Tubert back to 2-under for the round but she wrapped up her day with an exclamation mark, holing out from 42 yards for eagle on the par-5 ninth.
The Burbank, California, native cites her impressive length off the tee as one of the main keys to her success.
“I hit it really far so I think that gives me a huge advantage,” Tubert explained. “Actually, the two girls that I was playing with today had a conversation saying that I’m playing a different golf course than they are just because I’m in places that they aren’t and my 3-wood is going past their drivers. It is a different golf course when you’re hitting wedges and short irons into every green and the rest of the field is hitting in long irons and woods.”
With this being her first time through the Qualifying process, Tubert has enlisted the help of some of her friends who play on the LPGA Tour for advice on how to approach Q School.
“I have a lot of friends out on Tour and when I was out in Michigan, and tried to Monday qualify out there, I was really picking their brains,” Tubert admitted. “A lot of them said, especially for the first two stages, it’s a lot of fairways and greens and that you don’t have to worry too much about doing anything crazy until third stage. So, I’m just trying to go out and just stay process oriented, take it one stroke at a time and not think too far ahead and just focus on hitting greens.”
MIA PICCIO IN THE HUNT AGAIN AND LOOKING TO GO FURTHER: Mia Piccio made quite a splash when she finished solo third in the first stage of qualifying school last year. Unfortunately for Piccio, she missed advancing to the final stage by a mere stroke in 2013. After a year playing on the Ladies European Tour (LET), Piccio is back again and looking to once again chase down her LPGA dreams.
“These courses really seem to suit my eye,” Piccio said. “I played pretty well today too so that obviously helps.”
Piccio got off to a good start in her quest for her 2015 LPGA Tour Card hitting 15 greens en route to an opening round 69 on the Palmer Course to currently sit in fifth place after day one.
The Bacolod City, Philippines, native is hoping that a similar approach to last year will help her advance to Stage II of qualifying for a second consecutive year.
“Making it is the goal and winning it would be a bonus,” Piccio explained. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
NATALIA GHILZON HEALTHY AND CHASING HER CARD: Last season, Natalia Ghilzon missed qualifying for the second stage of Q School by five strokes in her first attempt. This season she is looking to turn it around and make a run at her 2015 LPGA Tour Card.
“This is my second year doing it and I only missed by a few last year so in my mind I’m forgetting last year and just starting fresh,” Ghilzon said of her approach to the week in Rancho Mirage.
Ghilzon started her 2014 Stage I off with a bang with three birdies in her first five holes to go out in 33. Birdies on the 10th and 12th were countered by a bogey on the 16th for an opening round 68 and a tie for second going into the second round.
“I actually hit the ball decent on the front, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens, it tapered off a bit in the end but my putting was there all day today,” Ghilzon explained. “As soon as I came out here I was worried about my putting because the greens are a little bit different from Dinah to Palmer but I had them dialed in today.”
Ghilzon is happy to be back playing competitive golf after a pair of wrist surgeries in 2009 and 2012 set her career back three years.
“I’m hard on myself,” Ghilzon admitted. “I had those three years off and I keep forgetting that’s it’s like from where I am now add three years and that’s where I could be.”
The Windsor, Ontario, Canada, native has also been encouraged by the progress made in her game since moving to Tampa and working with a coach who is on her bag this week.
“Spending a lot more time with my coaches,” Ghilzon says as to what has helped her game the most over the past year. “I moved down to Tampa too so that’s helped a lot.”