Jeray, Cho work overtime to earn LPGA tour cards

Taylor Karle, left, went par-birdie-birdie to earn her card in a playoff during the final round of LPGA Q-School. At right, Nicole Jeray also earned her card after five playoff holes.

Taylor Karle, left, went par-birdie-birdie to earn her card in a playoff during the final round of LPGA Q-School. At right, Nicole Jeray also earned her card after five playoff holes.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Nicole Jeray birdied her 90th hole at LPGA Q-School and confidently walked to her car thinking her 2-under 70 was good enough to get a card. The more she looked at live scoring, however, the worse it looked. By the time Jeray got up from her 20-minute car nap, she was due on the tee for a seven-person playoff for two spots. Five holes later, Jeray had her LPGA card.

“My legs are so tired,” said the 42-year-old Jeray.

Jeray’s first trip to Q-School was back in 1993 and she earned her tour card. She has been back every year since, with the exception of 1995.

“That’s probably the most pressure I’ve ever been in,” Jeray said of Sunday’s playoff.

In her third year on the LPGA, Jeray began struggling with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. The fact that she was able to find the strength and focus necessary to play extra holes was a feat in itself.

“It’s just so much more exhausting than any other tournament,” Jeray said.

As one of the shortest hitters out here, Jeray tried not to let the fact that she couldn’t hit the par-5 18th at LPGA International in two bother her too much. It was a clear disadvantage, given that she had to play it twice in extra holes. Still, she managed to birdie the 18th three times, including a 20-footer on the last hole.

Two players earned their cards in a three-hole aggregate (Taylore Karle and Lauren Doughtie). Five players then teed off for the last two spots, with Jeray nabbing the first and Irene Cho taking the second in two more holes.

After Jeray made her 20-foot birdie putt, Cho had a 2-footer on the 18th hole to take the last card. Her hands were shaking was so bad she “barely hit it.” Mercifully, Cho’s ball found the cup, and she left the week having learned a tremendous amount about patience and endurance.

Cho was numb for most of 2010 after her best friend Erica Blasberg, a fellow tour player, committed suicide. The next year, a nagging thumb injury became too painful to endure at the start of the season, and she took a medical leave.

“When you take a year off of competitive golf, you lose a lot,” said Cho, who credited competitors Christina Kim and Cristie Kerr for helping her get back on track. Kim was out live tweeting the playoff after her round.

For those two, it was worth the wait.

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