Cleaning out the Q-School notebook:
• Natalie who? The question was posed by a Los Angelescolumnist in a recent piece on the imminent success of Australia’s AnnaRawson. The professional model finished one stroke shy of exempt statusafter bogeying the 18th hole Sunday in Q-School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. The column compares Rawson’sQ-rating to that of John Daly, surmising that she will get a similaramount of sponsor invitations as Daly received after losing his PGATour card in 2006.
Seems a bit of a stretch. To start, outsideof an 18-hole pro-am event in Europe, Rawson hasn’t won a professionaltournament. The USC grad played a full season on the Duramed FuturesTour in 2004 and finished 29th on the money list. While on the LET,Rawson has one top 10 outside of Q-School: a runner-up at the DB LadiesSwiss Open.
There’s no doubt the rail-thin Rawson turns headsin her modeling prints. But if this L.A. columnist wants to see theneedle move inside the ropes, let’s talk about May Wood, a more naturalbombshell, not to mention a bomber with more natural talent. With alittle course management and added focus, the former Vanderbiltstandout could be the talk of the tour.
• She shot what? Nothing like covering a tournament in the dark. At least that’s what LPGA Q-School feels like with no live scoring, no standard-bearers, no leaderboards and no caddie bibs. The NCAA Championship was held at LPGA International in May and was conducted more professionally than last week’s Q-School. At the NCAAs, live scoring was available on golfstat.com, a leaderboard sat near the 18th green and standard-bearers walked with leading teams. Strangely enough, former college players like Taylor Leon, Anna Grzebien and Hannah Jun must have felt like they’d taken a step backward at the most important professional event of their young careers.
Earlier last week, I had a sit-down with LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway about the lack of live scoring for Q-School.
“As you’re probably aware, live scoring is an expensive proposition,” said Galloway, who went on about transporting scoreboards and gathering volunteers. The LPGA outsources its live scoring for regular tour events through IDS, a company based in Jacksonville, Fla.
Actually, for the bargain-basement price of $400, the tour could use Golfstat’s software for the week. All they need is three volunteers per side to report scores and someone in the tournament trailer inputting numbers. If the Indiana Girls High School State Finals can offer live scoring, the LPGA has no excuse.
Galloway at least offered a glimmer of hope: “That’s certainly something we should and will be looking at in the future.”
• Comic relief: The atmosphere on tour is bound to be a little lighter next year with Becky Lucidi in the house. The former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion turned “Big Break” star is always good for a laugh. Lucidi penned four entries in her rookie blog last year for lpga.com, but she said at Q-School that she lost interest when the tour started censoring her material.
The USC grad never doubted she’d make it on tour. In her second blog entry of the year, Lucidi acknowledged that her chances of getting into a pro-am were “about as good as me riding a camel on top of the Great Wall of China … oh wait, I DID do that.” Always the forward thinker, however, Lucidi created a list of things NOT to say or do if paired with her . . . in 2008.
My personal favorite is No. 6: “If we’re playing together, on the same course, the same hole, and in the same group, then it normally means we’re on the SAME TEAM. Don’t bust a nut trying to get it past me. Take one for the team and put her in the short grass, big guy.”
• One of a kind: Hard to believe that Shanshan Feng, 18, is the first Chinese player to earn exempt status on the LPGA considering the population of her homeland is 1,321,851,888 – at last count, anyway. Feng entered Q-School as an amateur, then turned professional to receive her card. (The LPGA has allowed amateurs to compete in its qualifier since 2005.)
Feng’s father, Xiong, is secretary of the Guang Zhou City Golf Association, one of the nation’s strongest golf organizations. It’s amazing to see what Feng, who goes by Jenny, has accomplished, given how much time she’s had to practice.
In China, Feng went to school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then beat balls at the largest range in Asia after class. On weekends, she played nine holes. After winning the Chinese Women’s Amateur in 2005 and ’06, Feng moved to the U.S. in February to attend the International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C. She immediately won four IJGT tournaments and later qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles.
Gary Gilchrist has been singing Feng’s praises since we walked around Bulle Rock last June watching another one of his students, Suzann Pettersen, win the McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
“She’s got a great ability to stay focused and not get caught up in anything else,” Gilchrist said. “What she lacks is the experience of playing with better players and having a chance to learn from them.”
That will come soon enough.