Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Down to the Wire at LPGA Q-School's Final Qualifying Tournament

The 76 golfers who survived the cut line at LPGA Q-School's Final Qualifying Tournament are already on the Champions course and it should be a real shootout at LPGA International today.  Not so much for the 4 players under par through 4 rounds, whom Lisa Mickey focused on so well yesterday, or the 3 at E, 1 of whom Beth Ann Baldry profiled.  Whereas something horrific would have to happen for these 7 golfers to fall out of the top 20, with 10 players at T19 and the rest of the field only 7 shots or less behind them, literally anything can happen over the last 18 holes.  Just look at Ayaka Kaneko, who went 79-76 on the Legends course earlier in the week but whose 67 on the Champions course yesterday moved her up from T78 (+10) to T19 (+5)!

What's amazing to me is who's struggling to remain in or get into that top 20.  Minea Blomqvist, who's had a long and successful, if slightly underachieving, LPGA career, is in that big group at T19.  A pair of 75s on the Legends course have been her downfall thus far, but she's only broken par at the Champions course once and didn't break 70 when she did it.  Hopefully that means a low number is in the cards for her.  Mariajo Uribe is only 1 shot better, having gone 75-74 her last 2 rounds to fall to +4 for the week; she'll need to improve greatly on that 75 on the Champions course from a couple of days ago if she doesn't want to have barely-there LPGA status (from being only in the top 125 on the 2011 LPGA money list) in 2012.  Hot young prospects like Mitsuki Katahira, Hannah Yun, Lizette Salas, and Jaclyn Sweeney are also right on the bubble at +5 through 72 holes, as are Meredith Duncan and Jean Reynolds.

1 stroke behind them are Sophia Sheridan and Lili Alvarez, who are trying to return to the LPGA, along with 2-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang, who's gone 78-75 on the Legends course but is coming off a 69 a couple of days ago on the Champions course.  And don't forget Thailand's Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, a 2-time winner on the CLPGA this year.

Victoria Tanco and Veronica Felibert are another shot back at +7; neither had broken 73 all week until Felibert shot a 72 at the Champions course yesterday.  Both will have to do much better than that today if they want to move into the top 20.

There's a traffic jam at +8 that includes Carlota Ciganda, Ginger Howard, Valentine Derrey, Stephanie Na, Izzy Beisiegel, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Hannah Jun, and Kendall Dye.  The only one of the bunch to break 70 this week is Jun (she shot a 69 Friday to bounce back from an 80 on the Legends course on Thursday!).  Perhaps that means they're all due to go low today....

A couple of Canadians are looking to do just that from 4 shots behind the bubble girls.  Just like Lee-Bentham and Beisiegel, Samantha Richdale and Lisa Meldrum need to do something they haven't accomplished all week--break 70 on the Champions course--today.  So does Danah Bordner, like Richdale and Meldrum an LPGAer this year and like Richdale a victim of the Legends course yesterday.

There are others further back--from youngsters Julia Boland, Jenny Suh, and Shasta Averyhardt to established pros like Cathryn Bristow, Allison Fouch Duncan, and Leah Wigger, to veterans like Jamie Hullett, Birdie Kim, and Nicole Jeray--who basically need a miracle.  But this is Q-School, where someone's miracle is everyone else's nightmare, so I'm going to be careful what I wish for--absolutely nothing!

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