In the final round at LPGA Qualifying School Stage II, Georgia Hall (Wimborne, England) never looked back after an eagle on No. 4 of the Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida.
Hall looked laser-focused, converting that eagle, along with five birdies in the final round to card a 4-under 68.
“I think I missed a couple birdie opportunities before that, but I was playing really well,” Hall said. “It’s always good to get an eagle. I played really well the rest of the round.”
Csicsi Rozsa (Budapest, Hungary) and Sandy Choi (San Diego, Calif.) comprised the rest of Sunday’s final pairing. Choi used four birdies and four bogeys to shoot even par, concluding her Stage II effort tied for 5th at 8-under overall.
Meanwhile, Rozsa entered as the 54-hole leader and shot 1-under (71), but nerves led to a 1-over front nine and having to play catch-up on the back.
“It wasn’t really outside, it was in me. The back nine I could let it go again, knowing that I saved up all the shots,” said Rozsa. “My caddie on the 18th tee box, he said, ‘You have 19 shots on this hole because you saved up all the shots this week. You can just let it rip.’ That’s how I felt on the last few holes.”
Scrolling down the leaderboard, 7-over was the mark for players to advance to Stage III. Carlie Yadloczky (Casselberry, Florida) and Katelyn Sepmoree (Tyler, Texas) found themselves on the fringe of that mark entering the final round. They were paired together on Sunday as the first group off No. 1 on the Bobcat Course.
“I knew if I just stayed at even par I’d figured the cut would go up,” said Yadloczky, who carded a 2-under on Sunday to finish the tournament at 4-over. “Our momentum was really good. Being a two-some and we’re both fast, we just kind of fed off each other.”
Yadloczky went from tied for 77th after the third round, to tied for 55th by the tournament’s end. As for Sepmoree, she climbed from a tie for 77th to a tie for 46th.
“This whole week is like the pressure cooker of weeks,” said Sepmoree, who fired a 3-under in the final round to finish at plus-3 overall. “We all want to come out here and do well. Knowing that it was on the number you try not to think about it, but it’s there and you just have to trust yourself.”
From the brink, to the wrong side, Elizabeth Tong (Thornhill, Canada) entered the final round in a tie for 85th, knowing she had to improve her standing if she wanted to advance to Stage III.
Georgia Hall has had quite the breakout year. The European Solheim Cup phenom overpowered the rest of the field on Sunday with a 4-under to earn LPGA Qualifying School Stage II honours.
Her English counterpart, Meghan MacLaren also fired a 4-under par in the final round to charge up the leaderboard, from tied for seventh to tied for third.
“Hopefully I can just keep this form going,” MacLaren said. “This is the best I’ve hit the ball for a few months. It’s nice to have it coming together at an important time.”
While many players will use the time between Stage II and Stage III to practice and rest, Hall and MacLaren will be traveling and competing with the Ladies European Tour (LET).
“I go to Abu Dhabi this Saturday coming for the European Tour event, and then I’ve got Final [Stage] qualifying and then Dubai straight after,” Hall said. “And then I’m going to have six weeks off.”
Believe it or not, MacLaren might have an even more packed schedule.
“I’m going straight from here pretty much to Spain for the last event on the Access Tour, which is the feeder tour for LET, because I’ve played it all year,” MacLaren said. “And then two more LET events in Abu Dhabi and India. So hopefully I can climb up the order of merit, see what that brings. And then Q-School.”
Whatever the approach is, Hall and MacLaren are sure to be well prepared for Stage III.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said MacLaren. “It’s so good just to be playing and seeing where it can take you. I’m feeling confident.”
“I fixed something on the range, which really helped so I could hit the ball straight,” Tong said. “I was like, ‘Don’t be scared to be aggressive because once you do that, you’re going to start making bogeys.’ That was the plan.”
Tong shot at 3-under on Sunday to finish 4-over for Stage II. That was good enough to finish tied for 55th.
“It’s actually my first time at Stage III,” said Tong. “That’s exciting in itself. I’ve played both of those courses before, so it won’t be totally foreign.”
The top 80 and ties from Stage II advanced to Stage III. All in all, 82 individuals fired plus-7 or better to advance to the final stage from Nov. 27 – Dec. 3 in Daytona Beach, including Yadloczky, Sepmoree, and Tong. Players that did not finish in the top 80 will still have Symetra Tour membership for the 2018 season.