Muni He goes from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Pinehurst in pursuit of higher LPGA status

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Muni He goes from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Pinehurst in pursuit of higher LPGA status

LPGA Tour

Muni He goes from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Pinehurst in pursuit of higher LPGA status

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PINEHURST, N.C. – Muni He glanced at the scoreboard on her walk up to the 18th green and said to her caddie, “Oh my god, I’m 16 under?”

Needless to say, Q-Series the second time around isn’t nearly as stressful as it was last year. He shot a breezy 7-under 65 in Round 5 to build a six-shot lead.

“I think I’m finally getting the hang of things,” said the social media sensation, who flew from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Pinehurst in pursuit of higher status on the LPGA. He needs to finish in the top 45 and ties to accomplish the feat. It would take a train wreck of monumental proportions for her to tumble that far in the next three days.

Haley Moore posted Wednesday’s next-best score, a 66, to vault into a share of eighth. Moore’s father flew into Charlotte, North Carolina, last night from California to surprise her.

“It was pretty cool for him just to come out and see this because it’s such a grind out here,” said Haley, who had her father on the bag in the first stage at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

It was a strong day for several college standouts as well, Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela posting a 69 to move into a share of 13th with teammate Andrea Lee and USC’s Jennifer Chang. All three are in the top 4 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that He, who goes by “Lily,” decided to leave college early to spend a year on the Symetra Tour. She would be a junior at USC if she’d stayed amateur.

“It’s crazy because I talk about this with some of my friends all the time,” said He, “it feels like it’s been ages since I was in college. Maybe because so much has happened the last two years.

“It feels like I have grown so much as a person.”

SCORES: LPGA Q-school leaderboard

He, who was a rookie on the LPGA in 2019, said she has learned to become more accepting of her mistakes. She also learned to appreciate what got her to this level.

Last year during the offseason, He set out to gain weight to help her gain distance on the LPGA. Purposefully packing on the calories gave her an extra 5 to 10 yards, but it didn’t help her golf game.

“By trying to gain so much distance and changing my body composition, I think it did affect me a little bit at the beginning of the year because I didn’t know how to control (the ball),” said He. “I was very off in terms of distance control and I was honestly spraying it a little bit.”

He, 20, has 252,000 followers on Instagram. Setting out to change her appearance wasn’t an easy thing to do, but He was prepared to do whatever it took to find success on the LPGA.

“Social media kind of creates this false ideal of what girls should look like,” she said. “Of course it’s hard, as girls we are so critical of our bodies. So yeah, sometimes I would definitely put on a little bit of weight and be like ‘Oh, I don’t look good’ and you just feel bad in general.”

He’s energy tanked along with her consistency. But now she’s back playing the down-the-middle game that shaped her young career, and it’s paying off handsomely.

“It was just a matter of finding what’s right for you,” she said.

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