Millican Tied For 11th In LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
Nov. 30, 2006
Contributing Story by LPGA.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Former East Carolina golfer Adrienne Millican carded a 2-under par 70 during the first round at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Wednesday.
The 90-hole tournament is staged at LPGA International, where 138 players will play the Champions and Legends courses twice, hoping to be among the top-70 to advance to Sunday. After Sunday's final round, the top-15 finishers will earn exempt status for the 2007 Tour season, while the next 35 will earn conditional status.
The Fuquay-Varina native currently sits in a share of 11th place after recording a front-nine score of 35 (one-under par) and a back-nine one-under par 35 on the LPGA International- Champions and Legends Course. She sits three shots off the lead, which is held by 2006 LPGA Rookie Hye Jung Choi and amateur In-Kyung Kim who had matching five-under par 67s.
Millican, a Conference USA All-Decade and two-time first-team selection, holds ECU's career scoring average of 75.63 as well as the school-record for tournament wins (five).
Kim, who has been playing golf since she was nine, has already earned a spot on the Duramed Futures Tour after winning the November qualifier. But now the 18-year-old has her sights set on the LPGA.
"I just want to play on the LPGA Tour," said the 2005 U.S. Girls' Junior Champion. "I had 16 greens in regulation and putted pretty well. I had one three-putt and six birdies. I played really solid."
On her front nine--the back nine of the Legends Course--Kim started the day with a birdie on 10 followed by two more on holes 13 and 17. A missed two-foot putt for par on the par-3 15th was her only hiccup of the day as she would more than compensate on her final nine holes with three consecutive birdies on holes three through five. "I like everything (about golf)," she said. "All of it is different. It isn't one round, it's each hole; the wind changes, everything can change on the next hole. I like making my own choices."
Choi, who earned non-exempt status for the LPGA Tour at the 2005 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, played just two events this season and her best finish was a tie for 21st at the Corona Morelia Championship in October. On Wednesday, she took her first step toward retaining her Tour card with a bogey-free round and five birdies, including three on her first four holes.
"I'm just enjoying this. I had a strong finish and for the first day it was very important for me. I putted well, but my iron shots were very good today," said the 21-year-old from South Korea. "It was very important for me to shoot low today because I was very nervous before the round today, but I feel comfortable now."
Choi leads a 58-strong contingent of LPGA Tour players in the field. Erica Blasberg is among them and just one stroke off the lead with a four-under-par 68. Blasberg earned more than $62,000 in 2006 for non-exempt status in 2007, but this week is her chance to earn the exempt card that has eluded her since she went through Q-School in 2004.
"I'm pretty relaxed. I have a pretty good mindset coming in here; whatever happens, happens. I've been here a couple times and have some experience," said Blasberg, who has finished tied for 32nd and tied for 22nd in 2004 and 2005, respectively. "I had a good round, I only made one bogey, so I want to stay relaxed, keep giving myself chances and not putting any pressure on myself. Just play golf."
Paige MacKenzie also got off to a strong start to join Blasberg in a three-way tie for third with Irene Cho. MacKenzie, who is best known in the golf world as a 23-year-old All-American from the University of Washington, is looking for a new title: LPGA Tour rookie. MacKenzie lost to Kim by one stroke at the Duramed Futures Tour Qualifier in November and is keeping the amateur in her sights this week.
"I had the usual adrenaline of a golf tournament, but I was amazingly relaxed out there, which was nice because that was my whole goal coming into this week. To try to keep in mind that this is just another event and that you just need to keep that same mentality and not try to do something different," she said.
Two LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournaments in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Venice, Fla., were held to help determine the field for the Final LPGA Qualifying Tournament. The top-30 finishers and ties from each sectional advanced to the final stage and join 58 current LPGA Tour members who are trying to improve or retain their playing status for 2007. The field is completed by the eligible players who finished sixth through 15th on the final 2006 Duramed Futures Tour money list. The top-five finishers on the Duramed Futures Tour money list automatically received their exempt card for 2007: Song-Hee Kim, Charlotte Mayorkas, In-Bee Park, Kristy McPherson and Meaghan Francella.
Consistent with the LPGA's history as being a true World Tour, the 138-player field features 54 international players from 21 countries outside the United States, as well as one player from Puerto Rico. South Korea is represented by the most international players with 16, followed by Canada (7), Sweden (5), Australia (4), England (2), France (2), Mexico (2), Scotland (2) and Taiwan (2). The remaining countries are Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, India, Ireland, Paraguay, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and Venezuela with one player each.
There is no shortage of homegrown talent either. Twenty-nine states are represented in the final qualifying tournament, with California leading the way with 17 entrants, followed by Florida with 12. Texas has five representatives, while Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio each has four. Minnesota, New York and Illinois each have three players in the field.