Korda takes 2-shot lead at Q-School finals
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been just five weeks since Jessica Korda last found herself atop a Q-School leaderboard. With one round left at LPGA Q-School, Korda holds a two-shot lead on veteran Aree Song at LPGA International. The story is slightly different this time, and the stakes considerably higher.
When Korda held her last qualifying lead, it was at Futures Tour Q-School at Lake Region Yacht and Country Club in Winter Haven, Fla. With a three-shot cushion heading into the final round, Korda posted an 80 to fall to T-3. Don’t expect it to happen again.
“It was a completely different situation than I’m in now,” she said. “Being in the lead is always good, you always learn something new from it.”
Korda played through Futures Q-School with a bug she picked up in Argentina at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship the month before. Korda is not only healthy this week, she also has found her rhythm with the putter. Success on the greens led to a third-round 66 on the tougher Legends course and then helped her vault to the top of the leaderboard Saturday with a 3-under 69 on a more open Champions layout. Still, a top-20 finish is all Korda needs to earn playing privileges on the LPGA tour.
“It’s completely different, Legends is tree-lined so the wind doesn’t affect it too much and Champions, it’s a bit open, the wind affects the golf balls a lot more than one would expect so certain putts I missed were just because of the wind,” Korda said.
If Korda can hang on to win Sunday, she will be just the second amateur to accomplish the feat. Paula Creamer won Q-School by five shots as an amateur in 2004. She turned professional immediately after.
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Third time’s the charm: With the first cut falling after Saturday’s round, the beginning of the weekend could be considered moving day for players hoping to find status on the LPGA next year. Dewi (pronounced Da-vee) Claire Schreefel was among those who authored a climb.
Schreefel turned in 4-under 32 on the Champions course, thanks in part to an eagle at the par-5 fifth. Left with an 83-yard approach on the short hole – with 80 yards being her favorite distance – Schreefel one-hopped it in the hole. She went on to birdie Nos. 6 and 9.
After the turn, Schreefel dropped shots with bogeys at Nos. 10, 15 and 17 before birdieing the final hole for a 3-under 69. She holds a share of sixth entering the final round in her third Q-School outing, up from T-12.
Schreefel, who hails from the Netherlands, earned LPGA membership with a 10th-place finish on the 2009 Futures Tour money list, but failed to earn full status at last year’s Q-School. Schreefel didn’t play any LPGA events this year, but figures she could have gotten into three if they had fit into her schedule. Instead, Schreefel concentrated on Futures events (finishing No. 15 on this year’s money list) and also on maintaining her Ladies European Tour card. She played seven events on that tour. It takes six events to carry over LET status to the following year.
“It could have been a good experience to play three (LPGA) events but it’s not mission impossible to keep your card in three events,” said Schreefel, who won the 2006 NCAA Championship while at USC. “I made a decision.”
Such decisions are never easy, which is why this year Schreefel hopes to employ a new strategy.
“I’ll just get full status and play whatever they have, you know?”
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Unfinished business: Earlier this fall, it appeared that Nova Southeastern would have to attempt its Division II national title defense without star player Sandra Changkija. The senior had grand plans to turn pro before her final semester should she advance through Q-School and earn LPGA playing privileges.
Changkija advanced out of sectional qualifying in Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Sept. 17 with what she called her “B” game. At the final stage, however, a misbehaving putter and difficulty with her irons left her just one shot out of the four-round cut to the top 70 players and ties. She finished T-74 at 10-over 298.
“I figured out what I was doing wrong with my iron shots maybe after 45 holes,” she lamented.
Changkjia also learned a lesson about patience and endurance this week.
“If you’re not making birdies, you gotta just keep making par and eventually, hopefully, a birdie will come through,” Changkija said.
As if the phrases “three-time player of the year” and “defending national champion” weren’t intimidating enough, Changkija now qualifies as a “Q-School near-miss.” It’s likely to be the only title that Changkija won’t repeat.