Seven birdies this afternoon on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., helped Gina Kim (Durham, North Carolina) to a 5-under par 67 in the final round of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage I.
Right around the corner from the start of her senior year at Duke University, Kim will return to collegiate competition in three weeks at the Annika Intercollegiate. Before returning to campus and preparing for Stage II after a solid showing in Coachella Valley, Kim is off to Wales for the 2021 Curtis Cup.
“The putts were not dropping at the beginning [of the week], but I knew this was a marathon not a sprint. I took it one hole at a time and stayed patient. After I made a bogey on No. 8, that’s when putts started dropping, so I think staying calm and poised was really the key for me,” said Kim. “Coach [Dan] Brooks and Jon Whithaus have been real instrumental in helping me strengthen my mental side of the game. I guess I am just thinking smarter these days, a lot calmer and I’m able to simplify a lot of things, so today was a pretty stress-free round.
“I am heading to Wales tomorrow, a quick turnaround, and will play in the Curtis Cup this week. After that, I must go back to school and be a regular college student and play in my college tournaments, so I am pretty excited about what is coming up.”
Huize Lian (Dalian, China) came in just behind Kim at 14-under par overall for a runner-up result. Two bogey-free rounds this week helped Lian stay atop the leaderboard during her second appearance at Stage I. After carding two bogeys on Nos. 3 and 12 today though, she bounced back as she came into the clubhouse to finish Sunday with an even-par round.
“It was really nice getting back on last three holes. I stayed calm and made a long birdie on No. 17. My putting was not feeling good, so that surprised me,” said Lian. “This is my second time at Q-School, I feel good now because the atmosphere is completely different from the Tour.”
Amateur Agathe Laisne (Paris, France) got a small sampling of the competitiveness in a final pairing and managed a steady 1-under par 71 for an outright third finish by the University of Texas Longhorn. The results leaves Laisne excited about what is ahead.
“I feel very confident with my game, especially my iron play. I just need to work on some distance on par-3s. It felt like my irons were going much further on par-3s on this grass. I know I can go back to France and work on some things, figure out everything for the next stage to be even more prepared,” said Laisne. “I learned that I could be patient by just trusting myself and my work. I just have to let it go and play. I also learned that even if I am not scoring that great, like in the third round I was 3-over after nine, I can come back and play well. This is something I was struggling when I was younger. I would play average and then couldn’t really put a score out there. For that, I am pretty proud of myself.”
Three players finished tied for fourth at -12 in Karen Fredgaard (Frederiksvaerk, Denmark), Auston Kim (St. Augustine, Florida) and Amelia Garvey (Los Angeles, California).
“It obviously feels really good. I made some clutch par saves during the rounds. However, I didn’t really think that much about it out there, just tried to focus on the gameplan and one shot at a time. I have learned a lot about my game this week. The one thing that stands out the most is being able to perform under pressure and accomplish my mental goals,” said Fredgaard, who will start her junior year at the University of Houston this fall.
“I’m really happy with how I played this week, especially with how grueling Stage I is,” added Kim. “The last few months weren’t easy for me, but Stage I helped get my confidence back and reinforced the good things I’ve been working on. The game is trending, and things really fell into place this week. I’m excited for the fall season, which will help me prepare for Stage II.”
A total of 95 players finished at 3-over par or better to advance to Stage II in Venice, Fla., from Oct. 21-24 in Venice, Fla., on the Panther Course and Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club.