RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., August 29, 2013 – Three rounds of play have been completed at the first stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, and Laura Gonzalez-Escallon holds a two-shot lead heading into the final round. Firing a 3-under 69 on the Palmer Course on Thursday, the Belgium native has a three-day total of 12-under 206.
The Purdue graduate, who was the 2012 Big-10 Player of the Year and Golfweek Second-Team All-American, now looks to continue her solid play for one more day in Palm Springs, Calif.
“I’ve been waiting for this all summer and I feel like my game is pretty sharp right now,” said Gonzalez-Escallon. “We still have tomorrow so we’ll see the way it goes. But I’m definitely happy with the way I’ve been playing this week. I just want to enjoy it, have fun and then follow my game plan and see what happens.”
The third-straight day of playing in triple-digit heat didn’t seem to faze Gonzalez-Escallon, who is the only player in the field to post three-straight rounds in the 60s this week.
“The only thing that really matters is just going out there and having fun,” said Gonzalez-Escallon. “The weather, I mean it’s warm, but I love it out here so it’s just been a great week.”
Finishing at 10-under-par 204 is Mia Piccio of the Phillipines. The 2013 graduate of the University of Florida carded a career-low 7-under 65 during Thursday’s third round, which is also the low-round of the week. The 22-year-old has one collegiate victory while a member of the Gator squad and helped lead her team to its third-straight NCAA Championship appearance earlier this year. Piccio was a two-time Second-Team All-SEC team member and a WGCA Central All-Region.
Coming into day three, Piccio was tied for fourth following rounds of 71-70. She was able to close Gonzalez-Escallon’s commanding 5-shot lead with eight birdies and one bogey to sit just two-strokes off her pace.
“I got off to a really good start,” said Piccio. “I think that was the most birdies I’ve made in a single round. It was fun, you know, I just felt like I couldn’t miss a putt today. You look at it and the line is there and feel so confident it will go in.”
China amateur Yueer Cindy Feng and Thailand’s Pinrath Loomboonruang are currently tied for third with a three-day total of 7-under 209.
Groups will be re-paired based on their score and the course they played on Thursday. They will switch courses for Friday’s final round with the leaders teeing off on the Dinah Shore Course Friday afternoon.
The top-100 players at the end of the week will advance to the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., and will unfold October 8-11, 2013. 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. 4-8, at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Top finishers in the final stage will earn 2014 LPGA membership (total number of cards TBD) and all others who make the cut will receive Symetra Tour status.