Thursday, August 29, 2013

Laura Gonzalez Escallon Leads LPGA Q-School's 1st Stage after 36 Holes

Born in Colombia, a successful amateur in her home country of Belgium, and a recent graduate of Purdue University, Laura Gonzalez Escallon wasn't on my radar entering the 1st stage of LPGA's Q-School, but after going 68-67 to take a 5-shot lead on fellow amateur Yueer Cindy Feng and Symetra Tour rookie Erica Popson and a 6-shot lead on Cheyenne Woods and Mia Piccio, she certainly is on it right now!

Gonzalez Escallon is 1 of 19 players currently under par and 24 at par or better.  You might think that those players are guaranteed a spot in the top 100 when the last putt has dropped on Friday, but remember that most of them are playing in Stage 1 for a reason.  It's pretty common to see 5-shot differences from one round to another with players of this caliber and level of experience, although even in this group Rhea Nair's 68-82 start, Hilary Packard's 81-68 start, and Maggie Yuan's 84-72 start stand out.

The fact is, if you can break 70, you can come back from even 1 terrible or 2 bad rounds at this stage.  Frankly, I wouldn't even count out players like Angela Park at +17 or Jillian Fraccola at +16, even though they're outside the top 200 right now.  Sure, they probably need 2 straight under-par rounds to move into the top 100, but why not?  If scoring continues as it did over the 1st 2 days in its closing rounds, the players near 100th place will be somewhere around +12.  If Hsien-Wen Huang can move from T104 to T13 by going 75-68, anything can happen today and tomorrow!

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