WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – For Jackie Barenborg, the key to a major breakthrough Friday at Duramed Futures Tour Q-School was all about point of view. After spending the past year grinding it out on the developmental tour – and focusing solely on making the cut each week – Barenborg decided to aim instead for the top of the leaderboard. Playing just 20 miles from her old Florida Southern campus, the 24-year-old far exceeded even her heightened expectations, finishing second in the qualifier and earning low pro honors.
Barenborg put the finishing touches on a 5-under 283 with a final-round 2-over 74 at Lake Region Yacht and Country Club. She finished four shots behind Wake Forest senior Natalie Sheary, who is maintaining her amateur status to finish out the year with the Demon Deacons.
“I didn’t look at Q-School like a nervous thing, I was excited about it,” Barenborg explained after a chilly, wind-swept day in Central Florida.
Even two years removed from graduation, Barenborg showed up with her old school mascot – the Mocs – emblazoned on her pullover and found comfort in staying with an old teammate, Angie (Armstrong) Shoemaker. Besides knowing the Lakeland area from her college days, Barenborg also was familiar with the three Q-School venues – which also included Lake Wales (Fla.) Country Club and Ridgewood Lakes Golf and Country Club in Davenport, Fla. – from her days spent playing SunCoast Tour events there. After playing “OK but not so great” at the courses, Barenborg experienced a few nervous moments at the beginning of the week.
“I just said those are practice rounds, those are where I get those bad rounds out,” she said. “I’ve played these courses a lot.”
Despite being paired with Sheary and young phenom Jessica Korda – who took a three-shot lead into the final round before posting an 80 and falling to T-3 at 2-under 286 – Barenborg couldn’t help but boast about being able to represent her Division II peers at the top of the leaderboard.
“It’s also how you leave it, how you leave college and what you do with your game after that,” she said of her recent success.
For Barenborg, who played all but two events on the 2010 Futures Tour schedule (making only three cuts, with her best finish a T-17 at the City of Hammond Classic), Q-School wasn’t a choice if she wanted to play again this season. Players won’t find out exactly what status they have earned until after the final stage of LPGA Q-School, but with such a high finish, Barenborg already has high expectations for the 2011 season.
“I’m excited – I know now if I can do it with 308 girls, I can do it this summer,” she said.
Sheary, meanwhile, will have to wait a few more months before entering the pro ranks as her path is delayed slightly by her remaining semester at Wake Forest. She credits part of her success in Winter Haven to being familiar with the large number of college players who showed up to test their skills at Q-School.
“There’s a bunch of college players out here. It wasn’t a tournament where I didn’t know anyone and I was so intimidated,” Sheary said.
It isn’t as if she doesn’t have any experience, however. Playing near her home in West Hartford, she was runner-up in 2008 at a Futures Tour event in Bloomfield, Conn., and lost only to LPGA player Vicky Hurst.
“It’s a nice way to finish,” Sheary said. “Going into the spring semester, my last semester at Wake Forest, with this last thing on my mind.”
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Paperwork delay: The professional ranks are calling Juliana Murcia Ortiz’s name – she just needs to finish a few items of business before she can answer.
After helping lead her native Colombia to a T-17 finish at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Murcia Ortiz simply is waiting for a visa that will allow her to remain in the U.S. as a professional athlete. Until then, she will continue with the qualifying circuit. She failed to make it to the final stage of LPGA Q-School, and heads to LET Q-School in Spain on Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Murcia Ortiz finished T-37 (7-over 295) at Futures Q-School.
The former Arizona State player originally delayed her pro debut for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August – making her first appearance in the event – and also the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship last month.
“I’m done with amateur,” Murcia Ortiz said. “There is nothing else to play.”
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Filling the void: With last year’s NCAA individual champion, Caroline Hedwall, out of the lineup this year at Oklahoma State, sophomore Victoria Park has been left with some big shoes to fill. For now, she’s indifferent about the leadership role she inherited, and even after two top-10 finishes this fall, declares that she needs to play better to live up to Hedwall’s legacy.
Entering Futures Tour Q-School has helped her realize just how far her game still needs to progress. Park opened the week with a 7-under 65, but slid to 3-over 291 and a tie for 16th. This is the first time Park has entered any kind of qualifying school, but she got her first experience among the pros at last year’s LPGA Kia Classic, where she missed the cut.
For now, Park has no immediate plans to turn professional, but is happy to have gotten an early look at the grind of life on tour.
“The money is on, and it’s not like a team play – it’s as an individual,” she said.
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Fashion in the fairways: Seema Sadeker is something of an entrepreneur. Sadeker and sister Nisha are at the helm of PlayGolf Designs. The company sponsors 24 women on professional tours around the world, including the Futures and LPGA tours, and organizes corporate and charity outings all over the U.S.
Seema and Nisha have two other companies in the works, including Runways to Fairways and Minx Golf, both of which focus on fashion on the golf course. Seema calls it her way to “add more bling” to the game.
With Nisha providing caddie services in Winter Haven, Seema finished T-32 at 6-over 294. She will jet to New Delhi, India, to play the LET’s Indian Women’s Nov. 11-13, then return in time for the final stage of LPGA Q-School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., Dec. 8-12.