With Foley tips, Granada returning to form

Julieta Granada hits her tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the LPGA Tour Championship.

Julieta Granada hits her tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the LPGA Tour Championship.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The final field for next week’s LPGA Q-School isn’t finalized. That’s because many of the players signed up for Q-School are playing in the Tour Championship, believe it or not. A good week here will give them a refund and spare their hearts from added stress.

Julieta Granada has doubled-booked herself for next week. She’s signed up for the LET’s season-ending event in Dubai as well as the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

“It’s up to me now this week to see where I go,” said Granada, who is 104th on the LPGA money list. Granada needs to play in six LET events to keep her card in Europe. Dubai would be her sixth event.

The top 80 on the LPGA money list have what amounts to exempt status (priority I) on the tour. The 20 players who earn their cards at Q-School have the same status (priority II) as Nos. 81-100 on the money list. Therefore, players who finish 100th or better on the money list at the end of the Tour Championship have no need to attend Q-School, because they can improve their standing only minutely.

That makes Granada’s current standing of solo fourth at Grand Cypress all the more critical. A strong finish here means she can take that flight to Dubai on Sunday night, thus securing a second tour to play in 2011.

“I hope there’s some magic in Florida for me,” said Granada, who won the ADT Tour Championship and $1 million prize as a rookie in 2006.

Rookie Pernilla Lindberg entered this week 106th on the money list. She will skip next week’s stress-fest if she moves into the top 100. The Swede also has full status on the LET.

“I know I always play better with low expectations,” said Lindberg, an Oklahoma State grad.

Lisa Strom needed to top-10 this week to avoid Q-School. She will be Daytona-bound after posting 84-88.

“Everyone outside the top 60 hasn’t played in five weeks,” said Strom, who got into the field as an alternate. “The expectation level is there, but the five weeks of not playing shows up quickly.”

Granada’s year took a positive turn when Sean Foley answered the e-mail she sent during the PGA Championship. The former U.S. Girls’ Junior champion had missed nine consecutive cuts on the LPGA and needed a breath of fresh air. Foley provided it.

“Everything that I have sort of been trying not to do my whole life, he tells me go ahead and do it,” Granada said. “It’s nice to just let loose.”

Granada began working with Foley three months ago and first put his system into play at the P&G NW Arkansas Championship, where she shot 66 in the second round and tied for 32nd. She then missed the cut at the Navistar in Alabama but tied for 40th in the CVS in Danville, Calif.

“I don’t even know how to explain it,” she said, “because it was just, like, instant.”

Granada, a former pupil of David Leadbetter and Gary Gilchrist, still lives in ChampionsGate but moved her membership to Grand Cypress in late August. The local knowledge has come in handy this week, as the demanding greens put a premium on ball placement.

When Granada won the ADT in ’06, she didn’t even have a driver’s license. When she and mother, Rosa, first moved from Paraguay to the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the pair rode bikes around town and rented a car only for tournament travel. Granada’s father, Alejandro, stayed home in Asuncion to run the family restaurant.

After the $1 million paycheck, Granada got a driver’s license to wheel around in her new luxury SUV. Unfortunately, the ride on the golf course wasn’t nearly as smooth. Her money-list standings have decreased significantly since her rookie year: 4-33-100-107-104.

Foley might reverse the trend.

“The last three months have been amazing,” Granada said. “I mean, it was a complete turnaround. I’m really happy.”

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