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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reid, Hataoka share lead after two rounds of LPGA Q-School Final Stage

   England’s Mel Reid, a veteran of two European Solheim Cup teams, and Japanese teen-ager Nasa Hataoka, who won the Japan Women’s Open Championship in October before turning professional, surged to the top of the leaderboard by going low in the second round of Stage III of the LPGA Qualifying School Thursday at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
   Reid fired an 8-under-par 64 on the Jones Course while Hataoka fired a 7-under 65 on the Hills Course, which has played the tougher of the two courses in the first two rounds. That left them tied for first at 11-under 133 following two rounds of the 90-hole marathon.
   The top 20 finishers will earn playing privileges on the LPGA Tour in 2017. Those finishing between 21st and 45th will earn conditional status on the tour. Those completing 72 holes will earn status on the developmental Symetra Tour.
   “You can’t let off the gas in this,” the 29-year-old Reid, a five-time winner on the Ladies European Tour (LET), told the LPGA website. “I’m 11-under after two rounds, but I’m not letting my foot off the gas. I’ve got a number in mind and I’m trying to get to that number, it not past it. All in all, I’m very happy with how I’m swinging it and how things are going.”
   At 17, Hataoka, who reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club this summer, is the youngest player in the field.
   “I really have played much better than I expected,” Hataoka told the LPGA website. “I’ve been putting very good and am really happy about it.”
   Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla. added a 68 at the Hills Course to the 68 she shot at the Jones Course in the opening round and stands alone in third place at 8-under 136. The 22-year-old Green has struggled on tour since bursting on the scene by going wire-to-wire to win medalist honors in the 2013 Q-School Final Stage.
   South Carolina senior Katelyn Dambaugh cooled off a little in the second round with a 1-under 71 at the Hills Course after sharing the lead following the opening round. But her 6-under 138 total has her tied for fourth.
   Like the rest of the current collegians in the field, Dambaugh will have to turn professional if she accepts the tour card that goes with a top-20 finish. Dambaugh was joined at 6-under by Latvian Krista Puisite, who posted a second straight 69, this one coming at the Hills Course. Puisite, who played collegiately at Texas State, appeared on The Golf Channel’s “Big Break Myrtle Beach.”
   Thailand’s Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, Ssu Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei, Yu Liu of China and Regan De Guzman, an amateur from the Phillipines, are tied for sixth at 5-under 139.
   Thanapolboonyaras, who turns 19 later this month, shared the opening-round lead with Dambaugh after carding a 67 at the Jones Course, matched par at the Hills Course with a 72.
  Cheng, who won an LET event as a 17-year-old amateur two years ago, fired a 6-under 66 at the Hills Course. Liu, who helped Duke win the 2014 NCAA championship as a freshman and promptly turned pro, had a 5-under 67 at the Jones Course. De Guzman, who finished up a four-year career at San Jose State in the spring, had a 4-under 68 at the Jones Course.
   Karen Chung, a senior on a powerhouse Southern California squad out of Livingston, N.J., and Olafia Kristinsdottir of Iceland are tied for 10th at 4-under 140. Chung had a 1-under 71 at the Hills Course while Kristinsdottir, who played collegiately at Wake Forest, fired a sizzling 6-under 66 at the Jones Course.
   Some of the other collegians in the field who will, like Dambaugh and Chung, have to decide whether to turn pro or return to college for the second half of their senior seasons should they finish in the top 20, are in with a chance to confront that dilemma.
   Miami’s Daniela Darquea of Ecuador is tied for 18th after a 4-under 68 at the Jones Course left her at 2-under 142.
   UCLA’s Bronte Law, the reigning Annika Award winner, also moved up the leaderboard with a 68 at the Jones Course and is tied for 27th at 1-under 143. Law of England was a member of the winning Great Britain & Ireland team in the Curtis Cup Match earlier this year.
   Furman senior Taylor Totland of Tinton Falls, N.J. fell back a little in the second round with a 2-over 74 at the Hills Course, but is tied for 41st at even-par 144. Purdue senior August Kim of St. Augustine, Fla. bounced back  from an opening-round 76 at the Hills Course with a  3-under 69 at the Jones Course to move into a tie for 52nd at 1-over 145.
   Two members of the Stanford golf team that won the 2015 NCAA championship and reached the final in 2016 and have since turned pro, Lauren Kim of Los Altos, Calif. and Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale, Ga., are in the hunt for a tour card. Kim is in the group along with Darquea that is tied for 18th at 2-under 142 while Stackhouse is another shot back in the group tied for 27th at 1-under 143.
   Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow, a four-time first-team All-American who helped Alabama win the 2012 NCAA title, is also in the group tied for 27th at 143.
   Also in that group at 143 is 19-year-old Australian Hannah Green, who reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green before turning pro this fall.

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