Green fires 62 in 1st round of LPGA Q-School

Jaye Marie Green fired a course-record 10-under 62 during the first round of the final stage of LPGA Q-School, with her dad/caddie, Donnie, on the bag.

Jaye Marie Green fired a course-record 10-under 62 during the first round of the final stage of LPGA Q-School, with her dad/caddie, Donnie, on the bag.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Several times during Wednesday’s round, Donnie Green lagged several steps behind his daughter so that she wouldn’t see the tears welling up in his eyes.

These were joyful tears, for this was a walk Green had long imagined, a day on the links alongside Jaye Marie that reached near perfection.

“I was crying I don’t know how many holes,” Donnie said Dec. 4 after Jaye Marie posted a course-record 10-under 62 on LPGA International's Jones Course to open the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

This week is supposed to be a grueling marathon that grates the nerves and upsets stomachs. Green, 19, missed qualifying for last year’s final stage by one stroke, so she is experiencing this 90-hole grind for the first time. Apparently someone forgot to tell her that birdieing the first four holes isn’t normal.

“So many times I’ve played a round where I said, ‘Dad I hit it so good, if any putts went in, I would’ve shot 10 under,’ ” Jaye Marie said. “It was that day today.”

The Green family burst onto the scene in 2012 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, when Jaye Marie lost in the final match to Lydia Ko.

Jaye Marie, of Boca Raton, turned down a scholarship to Florida and spent 2013 on the Symetra Tour. Her mom, Stephanie, faithfully sent email updates on Green’s progress to family and friends. They were always upbeat notes, with a big-picture outlook.

After Green failed to qualify for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, her mother sent an email explaining what happened.

The note included this line: “We wholeheartedly believe that it's not about what Jaye Marie does, but about who she becomes – and she's becoming a young woman of incredible character.”

There’s a lot of heart in this family.

Donnie, a teaching pro by trade, is the definition of fun. His mop of hair (all natural) can be spotted from three fairways over. He built a putting green in the garage that rolls 11 on the Stimpmeter. Jaye Marie used to skateboard on it when she was a kid, but now rolls in 6-footers before bed so she can see them in her dreams.

Donnie lights up when talking about shaft grams and kick-points. He’s a golf junkie, but he firmly believes in letting Jaye Marie figure things out on her own.

It was just before the ’12 Women’s Amateur that Jaye Marie changed clubs and went from iron shafts with a soft kick to ones that Donnie described as “firm as boards.”

She had so much success that week in Cleveland that she stuck with them. But after a year of use, Jaye Marie started feeling pain in her left wrist and elbow. She kept beating balls trying to work through it.

Green finished the Symetra season ranked 29th on the money list and looked at each event as another puzzle piece. She kept asking herself: “What the heck is this making?” The pieces didn’t fit.

Three days ago, she said, “Dad, I want to go back to who I used to be.” Translation: my old shafts.

Donnie went into the closet and dusted off an old set from junior golf: Callaway Diablo irons with True Temper S200 88-gram shafts – smiled, and thought to himself, man this is going to be good.

“Last night was the first night she slept calmly, knowing she could hit the ball since the U.S. Am versus Lydia,” Donnie said.

Early into Wednesday’s round, Donnie started thinking she could birdie every hole.

When she was 7 under through 10, Jaye Marie convinced herself not to start over-thinking. Just play.

She didn’t miss a green until her 15th hole, then salvaged par on the next hole to stay at 8 under.

At that point Jaye Marie told her dad: “Never in my life have I said this, but I’m really glad I just got up and down there because I really didn’t want to go back to 7 under.”

She birdied the last two holes to shoot the round of her life.

Only 72 to go.

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