VENICE, FLORIDA, October 22, 2016 - Marianne Skarpnord (Sarpsborg, Norway) is making easy work out of what is ordinally a very difficult week. She fired her third straight round in the 60’s on Saturday, a 3-under, 69 to sprint ahead of the field and lead at 10-under, 206 with one round left of Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She is five shots clear of Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, N.C.), who stands at 5-under, 211 and seven ahead of five players in a tie for third. Skarpnord has set herself up to cruise into Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament, which is November 30-December 4 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.
The top 80 and ties following Sunday’s final-round will advance.
Skarpnord, 30, made four birdies on the front nine and one birdie on the back. She chipped in twice for birdie on the day. She has made 16 birdies over the first three rounds.
“Today probably was my best day,” said Skarpnord. “My putter and short game were really working. I hit it in the water on 12 and made bogey, but then made a birdie on the next hole and made pars the rest of the way. Hopefully I go out tomorrow and have another good round and get it done.”
Skarpnord last played LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2009 and qualified to play on the LPGA Tour in 2010. After one year in the United States, she went back to Norway and has played in Europe ever since.
Skarpnord currently competes on the Ladies European Tour and ranks 37th on the Order of Merit. She has three career wins on the LET and 28 top 10 finishes. She ranks No. 188 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
She also represented Norway in the 2016 Olympics and finished T25.
“It was a lot of fun and very different from what we are used to,” said Skarpnord. “It was a great experience and I am going to aim for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo so I have to press on.”
Skarpnord is in a different situation than most at LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She wants to play on the LPGA Tour, but admits that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she didn’t qualify.
“If I make it, that is great, but my world won’t fall apart if I don’t,” said Skarpnord. “I definitely want it, but I’m not going to put any extra pressure on myself. I obviously hope that I make it, but I won’t think about it until that week.”
Skarpnord has long been considered a premier player in Norway. In 2003, she won the British Girls
Championship, defeating Beatriz Recari of Spain in the final match.
She made the cut and finished T36 at the RICOH Women’s British Open in 2015.
2015 LET ROOKIE OF THE YEAR IN POSITIONEmily Pedersen (Smoerum, Denmark) posted a strong 1-under, 71 on the Panther course Saturday to move from T50 to T17.
Pedersen had a bit of a topsy-turvy journey to her 1-under with six birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey, but was very pleased with how she played.
“I thought it was really tough out there, the wind was blowing one or one and a half clubs,” said Pedersen. “It’s really tough with all the dog leg holes because the wind changes and you have to re-calculate so I’m really happy about my round.”
Pedersen, who is the third highest ranked player in the field at No. 108 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, is playing LPGA Qualifying Tournament for the first time this week.
“You can feel people are a little more tense and you get more tense yourself because suddenly it’s not just if you make the cut or have a good result, you have to be in or you’re out,” said Pedersen. “I think I just try to focus on good scores and I’m doing OK so far.”
Pedersen, who ranks eighth on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit this year, was the 2015 LET Rookie of the Year. She has experience playing in LPGA co-sanctioned events including the 2016 ISPS Handa Australian Open, the RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship, where she finished T14 to earn over $47,000.
“My dream is to play on the LPGA and I’ve played majors the last three years and I’ve been having good results so I see that I could play on this level,” said Pedersen. “I could play more years on the LET, but it is my dream to play over here so I might as well give it a try.”
GAIL GRAHAM HELPING OSLAND STAY STEADYTwo-time LPGA Tour winner Gail Graham was here on Thursday watching Megan Osland’s (Kelowna, British Columbia) first-round. Osland and Graham are from the same hometown and play at the same golf course (Kelowna Golf & Country Club) and Graham is a mentor to Osland. Graham’s brother, Rob Anderson, is actually the head pro at Osland’s home course.
Osland carded a 73 on Saturday and is 1-over, 217 through three rounds and T17.
“I’ve been talking to her all week and she is just a role model to me,” said Osland, who first met Graham when she was 11. “She knows how I think so she helps me that way and she is just a good friend and has taken me under her wing.”
Osland narrowly missed advancing out of Stage II last year. She recalls going 5-over on her final five holes on the last day to miss by three shots.
“I learned a lot by missing advancing last year,” said Osland, who was a rookie on the Symetra Tour this year. “I came into this week with a different mindset. I basically told myself that I have to grind until the last putt on the last day this year.”
TOTLAND CLOSING IN ON SYMETRA TOUR STATUSTaylor Totland (Tinton Falls, N.J.), a senior at Furman University, tallied a third straight 1-under, 71, to stand in a tie for third in her first LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Totland hopes to advance out of Stage II and then go back to Furman. She will likely not play Final Stage and finish her college career.
“I just want to finish school and get Symetra Tour status,” said Totland. “I want to graduate and then go into professional golf after that.”
Totland, who placed 20th at the 2016 NCAA Championships, said that the experience of LPGA Qualifying Tournament has been great.
“It has been such a good experience and I’m learning a lot being out here,” said Totland. “I learned a lot in first stage and I’ve taken it over to second with the better competition.”
Totland’s former coach at Furman, Kelly Hester, was the coach at Arkansas when Stacy Lewis was there and Totland had a chance to meet Lewis as a freshman.
“Growing up, Tiger Woods was the coolest person ever, but more recently Stacy Lewis is someone I’ve looked up to,” said Totland. “Also, our new assistant coach, Laura DeMarco, has been helping me a lot with what life will be like on the Symetra Tour.”
DeMarco played on Tour in 2016 before deciding to pursue the assistant coaching position at Furman, her alma mater.
- No. 1 and 2 amateurs according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) - Leona Maguire and Bronte Law - remain tied for third at 3-under, 213
- There are three amateurs in the top 10 (Taylor Totland is the third)
- There are 11 players that are under-par through three rounds