HALL USES EAGLE, FIVE BIRDIES TO OVERPOWER FIELD
In the final round at LPGA Qualifying School Stage II, Georgia Hall (Wimborne, England) never looked back after an eagle on No. 4 of the Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida.
Hall looked laser-focused, converting that eagle, along with five birdies in the final round to card a 4-under 68.
“I think I missed a couple birdie opportunities before that, but I was playing really well,” Hall said. “It’s always good to get an eagle. I played really well the rest of the round.”
Csicsi Rozsa (Budapest, Hungary) and Sandy Choi (San Diego, Calif.) comprised the rest of Sunday’s final pairing. Choi used four birdies and four bogeys to shoot even par, concluding her Stage II effort tied for 5th at 8-under overall.
Meanwhile, Rozsa entered as the 54-hole leader and shot 1-under (71), but nerves led to a 1-over front nine and having to play catch-up on the back.
“It wasn’t really outside, it was in me. The back nine I could let it go again, knowing that I saved up all the shots,” said Rozsa. “My caddie on the 18th tee box, he said, ‘You have 19 shots on this hole because you saved up all the shots this week. You can just let it rip.’ That’s how I felt on the last few holes.”
Scrolling down the leaderboard, 7-over was the mark for players to advance to Stage III. Carlie Yadloczky (Casselberry, Florida) and Katelyn Sepmoree (Tyler, Texas) found themselves on the fringe of that mark entering the final round. They were paired together on Sunday as the first group off No. 1 on the Bobcat Course.
“I knew if I just stayed at even par I’d figured the cut would go up,” said Yadloczky, who carded a 2-under on Sunday to finish the tournament at 4-over. “Our momentum was really good. Being a two-some and we’re both fast, we just kind of fed off each other.”
Yadloczky went from tied for 77th after the third round, to tied for 55th by the tournament’s end. As for Sepmoree, she climbed from a tie for 77th to a tie for 46th.
“This whole week is like the pressure cooker of weeks,” said Sepmoree, who fired a 3-under in the final round to finish at plus-3 overall. “We all want to come out here and do well. Knowing that it was on the number you try not to think about it, but it’s there and you just have to trust yourself.”
From the brink, to the wrong side, Elizabeth Tong (Thornhill, Canada) entered the final round in a tie for 85th, knowing she had to improve her standing if she wanted to advance to Stage III.
“I fixed something on the range, which really helped so I could hit the ball straight,” Tong said. “I was like, ‘Don’t be scared to be aggressive because once you do that, you’re going to start making bogeys.’ That was the plan.”
Tong shot at 3-under on Sunday to finish 4-over for Stage II. That was good enough to finish tied for 55th.
“It’s actually my first time at Stage III,” said Tong. “That’s exciting in itself. I’ve played both of those courses before, so it won’t be totally foreign.”
The top 80 and ties from Stage II advanced to Stage III. All in all, 82 individuals fired plus-7 or better to advance to the final stage from Nov. 27 - Dec. 3 in Daytona Beach, including Yadloczky, Sepmoree, and Tong. Players that did not finish in the top 80 will still have Symetra Tour membership for the 2018 season.
LUCKY NUMBER 22
Taylor Swift once sang, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.” If you ask Gabriella Then (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), she was feeling 22 on Sunday because it was her 22nd birthday.
Then completed Stage II at 9-under, including a 2-under final round. She said it was the opposite of nerves on her birthday.
“Really smooth and very calm,” Then said. “Just tried to do the same thing I’d been doing the past three days. It worked out and I was really calm out there.”
In addition to celebrating her birthday, Then has plenty to celebrate as she will be competing in Stage III after finishing in a tie for third with Meghan MacLaren (Rushden, England).
“We are just going to head over to Orlando and have birthday dinner with my family,” said Then. “Maybe head to Disney World the next day.”
The former All-American and All-Pac 12 performer at the University of Southern California, Then has her eyes set on continuing to develop her game and maintain her strong play come Stage III in Daytona Beach.
“Head back to California, work on my swing with my coach again and try to get in better shape,” Then said. “Practice really hard for the next stage.”
ENGLAND STARS SHINE BRIGHT
Georgia Hall has had quite the breakout year. The European Solheim Cup phenom overpowered the rest of the field on Sunday with a 4-under to earn LPGA Qualifying School Stage II honors.
Her English counterpart, Meghan MacLaren also fired a 4-under par in the final round to charge up the leaderboard, from tied for seventh to tied for third.
“Hopefully I can just keep this form going,” MacLaren said. “This is the best I’ve hit the ball for a few months. It’s nice to have it coming together at an important time.”
While many players will use the time between Stage II and Stage III to practice and rest, Hall and MacLaren will be traveling and competing with the Ladies European Tour (LET).
“I go to Abu Dhabi this Saturday coming for the European Tour event, and then I’ve got Final [Stage] qualifying and then Dubai straight after,” Hall said. “And then I’m going to have six weeks off.”
Believe it or not, MacLaren might have an even more packed schedule.
“I’m going straight from here pretty much to Spain for the last event on the Access Tour, which is the feeder tour for LET, because I’ve played it all year,” MacLaren said. “And then two more LET events in Abu Dhabi and India. So hopefully I can climb up the order of merit, see what that brings. And then Q-School.”
Whatever the approach is, Hall and MacLaren are sure to be well prepared for Stage III.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said MacLaren. “It’s so good just to be playing and seeing where it can take you. I’m feeling confident.”
82 individuals fired plus-7 or better in Stage II of LPGA Qualifying School to advance to Stage III in Daytona Beach from Nov. 27 - Dec. 3 in Daytona Beach. Players that did not finish in the top 80 will still have Symetra Tour membership for the 2018 season.
The top 10 on the leaderboard shot a combined 21-under par in the final round on Sunday.
The best final round score was turned in by Lindsey McCurdy (Liberty Hill, Texas) who fired a 5-under on the Panther Course. Meanwhile, 8 players fired a 4-under par in the final round on the Bobcat Course. The list includes: Georgia Hall, Meghan MacLaren, amateur Linnea Strom (Gothenburg, Sweden), Nuria Iturrios (Son Servera Mallorca, Spain), Fumika Kawagishi (Yokohama, Japan), Wad Phaewchimplee (Bangkok, Thailand), Huize Lian (Dalian, China), and Shannon Fish (Spring, Texas).
On her 22nd birthday, Gabriella Then went 2-under to move to 9-under overall for Stage II and finish in a tie for 3rd. Then earned 2016 All-Stanford Region and All-Pac 12 honorable mention honors, posting three top 10s and five top 20s while finishing fourth on the team with a career-best stroke average of 72.48.
Linnea Strom, the No. 10 ranked amateur in the world, finished Stage II at 8-under, which included posting a 4-under in the final round. Fellow amateur Leona Maguire (Cavan, Ireland), the No. 1 amateur in the world, carded a 7-under overall and went even par on Sunday. Strom will compete at Stage III, but Maguire will not in order to preserve her amateur status and finish her career at Duke University this upcoming spring.