With 54 holes in the books at Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, three players are tied for the lead of 9-under par overall including amateurs Bianca Pagdanganan (Quezon City, Philippines) and Min A Yoon (Seoul, Republic of Korea), as well as Ana Ruiz (Chihuahua, Mexico).
Each player went 2-under par in round three to reach the mark currently setting the pace.
“I’m definitely proud of how I’ve played so far,” said Pagdanganan, who recorded five birdies on the Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Mission Hills Country Club en route to her 70. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with one more round because I like to take things one step at a time, but am playing confident and feel good about my game especially how hard I’ve worked. Hopefully I can stay consistent tomorrow and in the future. I would say I’m competitive and that helps with an aggressive style of play.”
Ruiz also recorded five birdies on the way to a 70 this afternoon. The only difference was she competed on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, the same track the final round will be played on tomorrow. It was an aspect that Ruiz called a slight advantage for the last 18 holes.
“I also played in the prep tournaments before this, with lots of reps on Dinah Shore so I feel comfortable on it,” Ruiz said. “It can be visually intimidating, but if you can really focus on where you want to go then it becomes a little easier. You can bomb drives out there and it’s fun to play. My game is in great shape and I’m really excited to be in this position. There’s nothing to lose now, so I’m just going to do my best and enjoy the ride.”
Meanwhile, Yoon expects the experience as a 54-hole co-leader to be slightly different than when she held the 18-hole advantage. However, a bogey-free third round kept the 16-year-old in control of the gameplan she came to Coachella Valley with.
“For tomorrow, I’ll focus on trying to make pars because there’s so many challenging holes,” said Yoon through her translator, coach and father Young Jin. “When I get it close, I will try to make birdie and also aggressively attack the par-5s. Being in this spot is important to figure out how to score, sometimes go after it and other times hold back. Final round will have difficult hole locations and provide a good test.”
A total of 151 players made the cut of 6-over par, while 106 competitors sit at 3-over par or better. Final round action begins at 7:15 a.m. PDT tomorrow with all play off the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. A minimum of the top-95 players and ties will advance to Stage II from Oct. 14-17 in Venice, Fla., on the Panther Course and Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club.
Bethany Wu (-7, T4) on shooting 5-under par 67 at Shadow Ridge Golf Club:
“I knew coming into today’s round that out of the three courses, Shadow Ridge would be the one that I need to take advantage of since I think it’s easiest in the rotation. I was hitting solid shots throughout the day and putts were rolling in from everywhere on the front nine, with eight one-putts. Entering the week, I had the mentality of putting myself into a position to win the event, so I’m glad I could post good numbers heading into the final 18 holes.”
Rebecca Lee-Bentham (-5, 8th) on what prompted her to make a return to competitive golf:
“My first Q-School was 2011 and I made it through the first try, had LPGA status for four years. Then I stopped playing and spent three years coaching back home in Toronto, never missed playing. This past December I visited California and met up with two friends that caddy on the PGA TOUR. They asked why I don’t play still and that if I ever did, they believe in me and would pay for Q-School. It was a little spark, but I wasn’t convinced to return. Other things happened that seemed like signs to go for it and February was when I stopped coaching to move to California, start practicing and get ready for Q-School. I played in and won the PGA Women’s Championship of Canada, with a course record in the final round. That got me an exemption into the CP Women’s Open, but I have priorities and if I wanted to get back out there then this is the right step. So far, it is pretty good.”
Soo Jin Lee (+1, T53) on shooting 6-under par in the third round after starting the day tied for 202nd:
“It feels good to have a round in the 60s and it is actually my first bogey-free round as a professional. I can’t even put into words how happy I am, even though there’s one more day left. I have struggled with my putting the whole year including the first day here, but it progressively got better every day. All the hours of practicing on the greens has helped. Now it’s about not placing too much pressure on myself.”