A pair of 5-under par 67s on the Panther Course in the second round at Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament from Esther Henseleit (Hamburg, Germany) and Yan Liu (Fujian, China) has the duo tied for the lead of 9-under overall.
She only turned professional in January, but Henseleit has quickly adjusted to the spotlight. In June, the rising German star won the Skafto Open on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series. Furthermore, she owns eight top-10s in 15 starts as a rookie on the LET.
“Played really good the first half of the year and also played well in a couple recent tournaments on the LET,” said Henseleit, who carded seven birdies this afternoon. “I am quite confident with my game. I like the golf courses over here and also played the U.S. Women’s Open this year with a good showing there.”
Meanwhile, 21-year-old amateur Sierra Brooks (Orlando, Florida) is one of three individuals tied for third at 8-under par overall. The University of Florida senior is testing the Q-School waters and remains undecided on the future based on how she finishes Stage II, and perhaps Q-Series. Brooks was one of the 96 players to advance from Stage I when she ended tied for 69th.
“In the same boat, taking each moment as it comes,” said Brooks, a three-time tournament winner for the Gators. “My hope is to play in the spring, but don’t really know until I get there. I’ve been working hard and following my process. I want to play my game and see where I stack up against everyone for the rest of this run.”
Another competitor just one shot back of the leaders, Prima Thammaraks (Bangkok, Thailand) is finding success in her fourth appearance at Stage II. The Iowa State University alumna made 15 starts on the Symetra Tour this season, capturing two top-10 results. With good friend and LPGA Tour pro Wichanee Meechai on the bag, Thammaraks has put together back-to-back 68s and also used an unconventional method to get there.
“I actually left my books at home because I learned that my game plan doesn’t work really well on these courses,” Thammaraks said. “It’s good to have Jan here caddying and bounce ideas off. She’s been a lot of help. The past few years we have played here it has been a bit more windy and with these courses it could get a bit more difficult with the small greens. It feels nice to put some decent rounds in to give you a little bit more of a margin.”
A total of 37 players concluded round one at 3-under par or better, while 52 competitors are at 2-under par or better. A minimum of the top-30 players and ties will advance to LPGA Q-Series contested from Oct. 23 to Nov. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C. at Pinehurst Resort. Those at the next score, or scores, will also move on provided the total number of players in Q-Series does not exceed 108, which currently has 60 exempt and entered competitors.
Yan Liu (-9, T1) on being in this position as a 36-hole co-leader:
“I still have 36 holes to go. I will just stay calm, do my best and just keep playing. I am trying to win and if I make it, I make it.”
Olivia Cowan (-8, T3) on her mindset after an even par second round:
“I know I don’t have to shoot low scores every day, can pretty much stay around 2-under, or level, and I should be good. Obviously you still want to shoot a low score. Today I was just a little bit tired and it was quite hot as well. I would get a birdie and then a bogey right after, so that was frustrating. When I was here two years ago, I wasn’t even thinking of winning, just getting through. This year, obviously the main goal is to get through, but I am trying to see it as a normal tournament and not really a qualifying stage.”
Delfina Acosta (-6, T8) on mixing things by adding a new putter to the bag:
“I wasn’t playing that well coming into the week and not making putts, so I changed my putter. I finally saw a few putts go in today and yesterday which I am pretty happy about. It is an Odyssey Toulon design San Diego putter. A few years ago, I used a Toulon one, but was putting with a center shaft and this is bit different. I am happy with the putter, going to work on my long game and see what I can do.”
Maia Schechter (-5, T14) on entering day two T86 then shooting 6-under par 66 on the Bobcat Course:
“I honestly haven’t been following the scores. Played well yesterday and shot 1-over, but just couldn’t get anything going and had a few bad bogeys. Still, I felt like I was giving myself opportunities so actually didn’t think I had to do anything different today, even tomorrow and the next day. A few putts dropped today and hit a few close, but there were definitely some missed chances.”
Gigi Stoll (-3, T28) on climbing the leaderboard all the way from T131 with a 6-under par 66 effort on the Panther Course:
“My putter got pretty hot today. Honestly, yesterday I didn’t give myself many birdie opportunities. I hit a lot of greens, but they weren’t really too close. Today I got them a little closer and made quite a few more putts. It’s nice to do it now after the kind of stretch I had yesterday, good to bounce back and just get myself under par. I know I still have a lot of work to do the next couple of days, but to put myself in this position is good.”