Jaye Marie Green seems to thrive in the pressure-cooker that is Stage III of the LPGA’s Qualifying School.
The Floridian rebounded from a slow start Saturday to card a 2-under-par 70 over the Hills Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. to sit atop the leaderboard at 15-under 273 heading into the final round of Q-School’s Final Stage.
Green was the wire-to-wire winner of the Final Stage three years ago and struggled enough this year to end up back trying to regain her playing privileges for the 2017 season. The top 20 finishers following Sunday’s final round of the grueling 90-hole test earn an unconditional Tour card.
“I was 2-over through seven and I was like ‘oh gosh,’ and I started thinking about the top 20 and thinking what is going on here,” the 22-year-old native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. told the LPGA website. “It is so good to be able to pull it back. To finish 2-under par after a bad start definitely helps the confidence.”
Green is two shots ahead of Iceland’s Olafie Krstinsdottir, a former Wake Forest standout who played on the Ladies European Tour (LET) this year. Kristinsdottir fired a 4-under 68 at the Jones Course, which has played the easier of the two course this week, and stands at 13-under 275.
Former Washington standout Sadena Parks, who became the first African American player to graduate from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA in 2014, is alone in third place. The 26-year-old Parks, who appeared in The Golf Channel’s “Big Break Florida,” had a 4-under 68 on the Hills Course and is at 12-under 276.
Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, at 17 the youngest player in the field, cooled off a little after grabbing the lead after three rounds with a 3-over 75 at the Hills Course and is alone in fourth place at 11-under 277. Hataoka, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club this summer, won the Japan Women’s Open Championship as an amateur in October before turning pro.
A shot behind Hataoka is another teen phenom, Angel Yin of Arcadia, Calif. Yin was an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) standout and the runnerup in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship two summers ago. She was going to join the powerhouse Southern California program, but decided to turn pro. She had a 4-under 68 on the Jones Course and is in fifth place at 10-under 278.
Beth Allen, a San Diego native whose professional career has flourished on the LET, is alone in sixth place at 9-under 279 after a 4-under 68 on the Jones Course.
Another LET standout and a two-time European Solheim Cup team member, Mel Reid of England, heads a group of three players tied for seventh at 8-under 280. Reid, a five-time winner on the LET, matched par with a 72 at the Jones Course.
Joining Reid at 280 are Jennifer Ha, a former Kent State standout from Canada, and Ssu Chia Cheng, a native of Chinese Taipei. Ha moved up the leaderboard with a 5-under 67 at the Hills Course while Cheng, who won an LET event as a 17-year-old amateur two years ago, matched par with a 72 at the Hills Course.
Dori Carter, a native of Valdosta, Ga. and a five-year veteran of the LPGA Tour, had the round of the day, a brilliant 9-under 63 at the Jones Course that featured a hole-out from the fairway for an eagle at the 10th. The round landed her in a three-way tie for 10th at 7-under 281.
Joining her at that figure were Israel’s Laetitia Beck, who helped Duke win the 2014 NCAA title as a senior, and South Korea’s Jeong Eun Lee. Beck had a 4-under 68 at the Jones Course and Lee had a 3-under 69 at the Jones Course.
Only one of the current collegians in the field, Southern Cal’s Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., is still in the top 20 heading into the final round. Chung is tied for 19th at 4-under 284 after a 1-under 71 at the Hills Course.
Any amateur finishing in the top 20 has to turn professional to receive an unconditional LPGA Tour card. Those finishing between 21st and 45th earn conditional LPGA Tour status. The 70 players who made the cut for Sunday’s final round are eligible to play on the developmental Symetra Tour next year.
The 1-2 finishers in voting for the Annika Award last spring, UCLA senior Bronte Law of England and South Carolina senior Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek, S.C., are in a group tied for 30th at 2-under 286.
Law, a member of the winning Great Britain & Ireland team in the Curtis Cup Match earlier this year, had a 2-under 70 at the Jones Course while Dambaugh, who had a share of the lead after an opening-round 67 at the Jones Course, had a 3-over 75 at the Hills Course.
Miami senior Daniela Darquea of Ecuador is another shot back in a tie for 37th at 1-under 287 after a 2-under 70 at the Jones Course.
Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale, Ga. and Lauren Kim of Los Altos, Calif., standouts on a Stanford team that won the 2015 NCAA title and reached the final earlier this year, are both in the hunt for an LPGA Tour card in their first try at Q-School.
They are tied for 23rd at 3-under 295 after each posted a 2-under 70 at the Hills Course.
The survivors of Saturday’s cut to the low 70 players and ties will all play the Hills Course Sunday.