LPGA Q-School: Blumenherst nearing card

Amanda Blumenherst is one round away from a 2010 LPGA card.

Amanda Blumenherst is one round away from a 2010 LPGA card.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Amanda Blumenherst, the most-hyped player at this year’s LPGA Q-School, vaulted up the leaderboard Sunday with a fourth-round 5-under 67. The most decorated player in college golf history enters the final round at soggy LPGA International with a little breathing room. She’s tied for second at 5-under 283, one stroke behind Marianne Skarpnord (70).

“I was throwing darts at the pins,” said Blumenherst, who birdied her last two holes from 5 feet and hit 17 greens. “It could’ve been so much lower.”

The Duke star said she hasn’t felt this much pressure since the final round of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur, when she beat Spain’s Azahara Munoz (who is tied for ninth this week). Her father Dave, ever the constant supporter, felt the same.

Because play was canceled on Saturday, players resumed the third round Sunday morning. Officials decided not to repair and gave players 20 minutes (and a free sandwich) to switch courses and begin the fourth round. It took 52 hours to complete Round 3.

Blumenherst played the last 11 holes of her third round 2 over on the Legends Course, the more difficult track. Since players began the third round playing the ball down, they had to finish that way Sunday morning. Many were shocked to learn they were playing lift, clean and place in the afternoon round, since the general sentiment among players was that the Legends Course didn’t drain as well as Champions, giving the bottom half of the field an advantage.

Head rules official Doug Brecht insisted the two courses were in similar condition and said officials never considered playing the ball down for the fourth round.

“We were very surprised they had us play lift, clean and place today,” Blumenherst said. “It seemed kind of unfair.”

Nicole Jeray, who also played the Legends Course Sunday morning and is tied with Blumenherst, echoed her sentiments.

“I was shocked,” said Jeray, who struggled with mud on her ball most of the morning but had little trouble in the afternoon on the Champions. “To me it was completely unfair.”

Everyone, however, was pleased to get the fourth round in the books. The final round begins Monday at 7:45 a.m. on the Champions Course. The top 20 players receive Priority List Category 11 status (i.e. their cards). There will be a playoff in the event of a tie.

• • •

photo

Tamie Durdin

This must feel like the slowest week of Tamie Durdin’s life. The Aussie has spent the last five years on the Japan LPGA, where players and caddies literally run to their golf balls. Durdin said players are expected to finish a full-field event (typically 114 players) in 4 hours and 10 minutes.

She’ll have to slow things down if she manages to get her card this week. Durdin is tied for 15th after a third-round 69. Durdin, the longest hitter in Japan, won on the JLPGA this year and wanted to see how she could stack up in America. She lost her LPGA card in 2002 and then played on the Duramed Futures Tour for several years but didn’t like it.

“I had zero game over here,” said Durdin, who played for Pepperdine.

She shot 63 to win JLPGA Q-School five years ago and while her game continues to improve, her Japanese has not.

“This was just something that I had to do,” said Durdin, of coming back to America. Even if she’s successful in getting her LPGA card, Durdin might only play the minimum of 10 events.

“Japan will always be my main tour,” she said.

• • •

Nicole Jeray always takes a nap before afternoon rounds. The narcoleptic no longer falls asleep on the golf course, but long days make it difficult for her to fire on all cylinders.

“Just because I’m not sleeping on the course doesn’t mean I’m not dragging,” said Jeray, who was pleased with her 5-under performance Sunday afternoon.

Thanks to new medication, Jeray no longer falls asleep under trees or on a rock in the middle of a round. She won’t fall asleep on a treadmill or in her car. The nightly hallucinations are gone.

Even now though, she can’t sleep more than two consecutive hours at night, which means it’s tough to get through the day without a decent power nap.

“Thirty seconds of sleep can make all the difference,” she said.

• • •

photo

Mariajo Uribe

GOING UP

Mariajo Uribe, 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, lept up the leaderboard with a 4-under 68, moving into a tie for 20th.

Christi Cano made one of the day’s biggest moves with the day’s lowest round, 6-under 66, on the Champions Course. Cano jumped from T-71 to T-25.

• Former Duke star Liz Janangelo moved from T-18 to T-9 with a tidy 68.

Meredith Duncan eagled her penultimate hole to get into red numbers for the day. Duncan shot 71 and is tied for 32nd. Good friends Kristy McPherson and Jenny Gleason showed up moments before “Dunc” dunked an 8-iron from 138 yards. 

• European Solheim Cup player Gwladys Nocera improved 10 shots after an abysmal 79 in Round 3. Nocera, who has only been to LPGA Q-School one other time, is tied for 25th.

GOING DOWN

Nikki Garrett, the Australian who paced the field at the start of the week, is now tied for 15th after a third-round 78.

Jane Chin plummeted down the leaderboard after rounds of 78-76. She’s tied for 38th.

Tiffany Joh and Alison Walshe, two outstanding former college players, made the cut on the number at 9 over. Rough week.

• Alabama grad Kathleen Ekey and Junior Solheim Cup player Sarah Brown were among the notables to miss the cut.

• • • 

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