Recent college stars Gillman, Lee among rookies lighting it up on LPGA

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Recent college stars Gillman, Lee among rookies lighting it up on LPGA

LPGA Tour

Recent college stars Gillman, Lee among rookies lighting it up on LPGA

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LOS ANGELES – Just a few days ago Kristen Gillman, Lauren Stephenson and Jaclyn Lee were relaxing on the beach in Hawaii. All three had missed the cut at the Lotte Championship and, well, there are worse places to kill time.

The rookies are back to work this weekend in Los Angeles, with Lee in a share of fifth at the HUGEL-AIR Premia LA Open after a second-round 67. Stephenson posted a 1-under 70 and sits in a share of 31st. Gillman had it to 4 under until she rattled off five consecutive bogeys in her back nine. She’s still comfortably inside the cutline at 1 over and in position to make a Saturday morning run before the Poa greens get too bumpy.

The rookie trio left college early after earning their cards at LPGA Q-Series last November.

“I finished my last final a couple days ago,” said Lee, a finance major at Ohio State, “so now I am kind of just hanging out and I don’t know what to do with my time, because I used to do golf and school and now it’s just golf and relaxation and just enjoying the places we’re in.”

Gillman and Stephenson, two Alabama standouts, will graduate next week. Stephenson said she didn’t know how Alison Lee and Michelle Wie played on the LPGA and went to school at the same time for years. One semester of it was plenty.

Lee said she would’ve missed walking with her graduating class even if she’d stayed at Ohio State as it clashes with NCAA regional action. The Buckeyes went on to win the Big Ten title even without her.

“I may have shed a few tears,” said Lee. “That was awesome. My roommate for my freshman and sophomore year, she won the individual title and is a co-champion this year, so it’s cool just to see that we both have team rings and individual rings.”

LEADERBOARD: LA Open

Gillman took five classes this semester to finish up her degree in three years. She filed a 25-page paper on Tuesday. It’s the third time this year she’s had to file a 25-page paper during a tournament.

“It’s been good and bad,” said Gillman of juggling two full-time jobs at once.

And she’s mostly been doing it all on her own. The tour can be a lonely place, Gillman said, but she knew that coming in.

“Nothing has really shocked me,” she said.

What did a take a load off her mind was a closing 66 at the ANA Inspiration that moved her into a share of sixth. She’s currently 36th on the money list, her card secured for 2020.

“I kept telling my dad I just needed one good tournament,” Gillman said.

Now that she’s down to one job, more should be coming.

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