DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –– For Jaye Marie Green, cue the Groundhog Day references. Seventy-two holes in at the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School, Green has a nine-shot lead. Thus, the fatigue is more in the monotony than the stress.
Midway through Saturday’s round at LPGA International’s Hills Course, Green uttered this line to dad and caddie Donnie: “Whoa, I’ve only had one bogey in four rounds. How is that possible?”
Green’s play has been impressively steady. She opened with 10-under 62 on the Jones Course, and never looked back. Mi Rim Lee, who shot 61 to take Green’s course record practicaly before the Sharpie ink was even dry, is her closest pursuer.
A year ago at this tournament, the co-medalists finished 90 holes at 13 under. Green is already to 25 under, which surprised even her. She thought if she could get to 20 under, she’d have a comfortable cushion.
In describing Saturday’s round, Green had trouble distinguishing it from the rest. Fatigue has noticeably set in, more so for Jaye Marie than Donnie. Jaye Marie admitted she had trouble focusing at times. She waited so long on the 17th tee on Saturday that she felt like a zombie walking down that fairway. She still finished the round with two pars.
“Dad, help me just not check out,” she kept telling Donnie.
At 19, Jaye Marie is playing the longest stroke-play tournament of her young life. She made it to the final match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2012, where she fell to Lydia Ko, but says match play is different. It doesn’t require 100 percent focus all the time.
“I’m just going to try to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing,” said Green, who spent the last year on the Symetra Tour.
Perhaps on Sunday, there will be a little extra conversation between father and daughter.
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Fanny Cnops watched her Belgian teammate from the sidelines Saturday with bated breath. As the remaining holes dwindled, she knew her friend Laura Gonzalez-Escallon needed at least one more birdie.
Gonzalez-Escallon got it at the eighth, her 17th hole of the day, after sticking her approach at the par 4 to inside six feet. She tapped in and moved on to the ninth, where she hung a birdie putt on the lip. At the time, Gonzalez-Escallon was two shots inside the cut, which will gave the top 70 players and ties a chance to play a fifth round on Sunday. By day’s end, Gonzalez-Escallon was on the number.
“Today I just played a little better,” she said. “I made more birdies today.”
Q-School has been a varied experience for Gonzalez-Escallon this year. She won the first stage, played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., as she carried her own bag and had no one in her corner but roommate and travel buddy Maribel Lopez Porras (a recent Tulane graduate).
Five weeks later, Gonzalez-Escallon made the cut on the number (6-over, to finish tied for 80th) at the second stage. That 72-hole event was played at Plantation Golf Club’s Bobcat Course in Venice, Fla. It was the first time Gonzalez-Escallon had played on Bermudagrass, and the difference was marked. She struggled off the fairways all week.
“For me, it was just the waiting that was the hard part,” said Gonzalez-Escallon, still an amateur but practicing eight hours a day, like a professional.
Without status after graduating from Purdue in May, there were too many amateur events for Gonzalez-Escallon to turn professional. She held on her lowercase “a” through this week because of visa issues. She must secure a work visa to stay and play professionally, as opposed to the visitor’s visa she already has.
Gonzalez-Escallon is among the pack of Purdue players in the field this week. Four of the five members of the Boilermakers’ NCAA Championship-winning team (from 2010) are here, and that includes Gonzalez-Escallon. Only she and Paula Reto, who were freshmen on that team, made the cut.
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As the field was cut to the top 70 and ties after Round 4, these players fell on the wrong side of the cut (4 over):
• Stephanie Kenoyer, the Furman graduate of Big Break fame, was one of eight players who missed by one shot.
• Jennifer Song, a former USC player who won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, missed by four shots a 7 over.
• Cheyenne Woods, Tiger’s niece, was another shot behind that. Caroline Powers, a Michigan State standout, was also in that group at 8 over.
• Kelly Shon, in her senior year at Princeton, tied for 132nd at 13 over.