LAKELAND, Fla., Nov. 8, 2007 – Amateur Sara Brown extended her lead in today’s third round of the ninth annual Duramed FUTURES Tour Qualifying Tournament. The native of Tucson carded a one-under-par score of 71 to take a two-shot lead into Friday’s final round at 210 (-6).
“I was actually a little nervous playing today because this golf course is shorter and much more narrow than the others,” said Brown, 21, who played today at the tricky 6,060-yard Schalamar Creek Golf Club. “It’s definitely a target course and you have to think your way around it.”
Brown knew her short game would be tested when she saved par from 10 feet on the first hole, but she rolled in a birdie from eight feet on the third and drained a 12-foot birdie on the fourth hole to move to two under after five holes. The Michigan State University senior gave back two shots with bogeys on holes No. 6 and 7, but hit her approach shot to one foot on the eighth hole for another birdie.
With only one bogey and one birdie on the back nine, Brown found herself scrambling. She hit one fairway in regulation on the back and only five for the round, but leaned on her putter for a total of 29 putts. She saved par with a 12-foot downhill knee-knocker on No. 15, rolled in another save on the 17th, then capped off her round with a 20-foot par save on the last hole.
“My putter has been rolling nicely, so I’m excited about that,” said Brown. “I didn’t really come here to win this tournament this week. I wanted to play well, but I didn’t feel like I was playing well enough to beat people.”
But while Brown may have arrived for Q-School this week wondering how she stacked up against the pros, she has shown the full field of 312 players for the last 54 holes that she’s here to play. Still, breathing down her collar is the trio of Mandy Goins (71) of Frankfort, Ky., Ya-Ni Tseng (69) of Taipei, Taiwan, and the nation’s top-ranked amateur Vicky Hurst (72) of Melbourne, Fla., -- all tied at 212 (-4). Goins played at Cleveland Heights Golf Course today, while Tseng and Hurst played at Schalamar Creek.
And like Brown, Goins credits her short game for saving her in today’s third round. The former Wake Forest University collegian hit only six greens in regulation, but scrambled with 24 putts. She got up and down for par 10 times today, carding three birdies and two bogeys for her effort.
“I’ve made it hard on myself, but my chipping and putting has been really good this week,” said Goins, 23, who graduated in May. “I’m still getting used to the greens.”
Tseng was the medalist at the LPGA’s California Sectional Qualifier in September and will focus on the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament later this month in Daytona Beach, Fla. But this week, the teen is tuned in to winning on the other end of Florida’s I-4 racetrack.
“I like my position and I feel very confident and comfortable here,” said Tseng, 18, who won the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and two professional tournaments earlier this year in India and Canada. “It feels the same as the California sectional felt with good players and tough courses. I want to win tomorrow.”
Tseng’s irons were solid all day at Schalamar Creek. She hit 17 greens in regulation, but struggled with her putter. Her four birdies were all within two feet. Ironically, the only long putt she made all day was from 15 feet for bogey on the 18th hole, where she hit her tee shot out of bounds.
“It was a downhill putt with a big break,” laughed Tseng. “Maybe I just need to feel the pressure.”
Hurst also was keenly aware of the ominous O.B. stakes at Schalamar. The big-hitting teen was forced to play the tight tract more conservatively off the tee, and leaned on her trademark iron play. She nearly eagled the par-five 12th hole when she reached the 565-yard green in two shots and missed a 25-foot putt, carding a birdie, instead.
“You just have to dial in your 60- to 80-yard shots out here,” said Hurst, who three-putted twice and recorded three birdies and three bogeys today. “Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there and make birdies and not three-putt.”
Amateur Jean Reynolds (70) of Newnan, Ga., is alone at 213 (-3), followed by Brigham Young University three-time All-American Rachel Newren (70) of Salt Lake City, Utah, and amateurs Juli Erekson (72) of Mapleton, Utah and Chella Choi (69) of Seoul, Korea – all tied at two-under-par 214.
“I only played in three Duramed FUTURES Tour events this year after the NCAAs, but I learned what it takes to play out here and I want to secure my spot in 2008,” said Newren. “Plus, I’ve been friends with [leader] Sara Brown since we were 15, so I’m going after her tomorrow.”
Amateur Michelle Jarman (75) lost some ground today, but says she will turn professional if she earns exempt status after Friday’s final round of Q-School. The former collegian at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington passed her CPA exam in September and even has an accounting position waiting for her, but at 215 (-1), that desk job might have to wait for a while.
“If you had told me I would be playing like this three days ago, I would have been happy,” said Jarman, 23 of Wilmington, N.C., who just earned her master’s degree in accounting at UNCW. “I’m getting back into playing a lot and it’s just a treat and an honor to be here this week. And, there’s still 18 holes of golf left.”
This week’s 72-hole tournament moves to Cleveland Heights on Friday after players from 30 nations rotated during the first three rounds at Lakeland’s Cleveland Heights, Huntington Hills Golf & Country Club and Schalamar Creek.
Ninety-three players made the 54-hole cut at 228 (+10).
The final round will begin at 7:30 a.m., off the first and 10th tees at Cleveland Heights Golf Course, with the leaders playing the first tee at 9:20 a.m.
For scores and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com .
Weather: Sunny and clear with a slight breeze. Temperatures in the low 70s.
Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, Duramed FUTURES Tour at (863) 413-3299 and at [email protected]