Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Three-way tie for heading into Texas weekend

Oct 05. 2019
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By LPGA

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After 36 holes at the Volunteers of America Classic, three players are tied for the lead at -9. Canadian Alena Sharp, playing in her 307th event without an LPGA win, shot Friday’s round of the day, a 6-under 65 that included an eagle at No. 6 from a greenside bunker, to vault to the top of the leaderboard.

 

“I didn't have a great lie. I had to like really get low because I was against the back of the lip,” said Sharp, who also carded five birdies but bogeyed No. 18 after sending her approach long and over the green. “I was just happy to get it out and it hit the pin and went in.”

Sharp is joined at -9 by a pair of Americans also looking for their first LPGA victories. Brittany Altomare, who went 2–1–1 for Team USA at the 2019 Solheim Cup, shot a bogey-free 66, while Texas native and 2019 LPGA Tour rookie Cheyenne Knight returned a 4-under 67 on Friday. A good finish is especially crucial for Knight, who is 121st on the Official Money List with $71,346. She needs to break into the top 100 to prevent a return trip to LPGA Q-Series.

“It doesn't help me if I finish T15 or T20. It helps if I get close to winning, get up on that board,” said Knight, who earned her LPGA Tour card by finishing T27 at the 2018 Q-Series. “So that's all I'm looking at, putting my foot on the gas and being fearless. I have nothing to lose and that's how, you know, I think you should always play.”

Thai hope Ariya Jutanugarn hit a seocnd striaight 68 for a two-day total of six-under par to sit three shots off the lead.

First-round leader Stephanie Meadow opened on No. 9 and after making the turn at -1, she went on a bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey streak at holes 3-7 to finish at even-par 71 for the day. She holds solo fourth, with Katherine Perry and Jaye Marie Green tied for fifth at -7 after second-round 68s.

Brooke Henderson carded two eagles in her round of 67 and is tied for 20th at -4, while defending champion Sung Hyun Park shot a second-round 71 and is tied for 32nd at -2.

 

BACK TO THE FUNDAMENTALS FOR KNIGHT

“Play Cheyenne Knight golf. You don’t need to be anybody else.”

That is the simple mentality the 2019 LPGA Tour rookie has for the Volunteers of America Classic. She finished Friday in a tie for the lead at -9, the first time she has led in her LPGA career. Knight said she finally found something in her swing at the Indy Women in Tech Championship that has contributed to the recent success.

“I hit a draw and I haven't been able to hit a draw, so I've been like just shallowing out my club a little bit, trying to hit kind of a hook and it's been drawing. That's like my normal shot shape,” said Knight. “I've really been hitting my numbers good because I'm hitting it solid, not mis-hitting it, so it's been good. And my driver's straight. In college like I never missed a fairway, rarely missed a green, made a few putts. Just doing that.”

The Aledo, Texas, native said one of her greatest assets this week is her mindset. “I've been working really hard on like my mental game and putting things into perspective,” she said. “I'm just going out there and living my dream. I mean, like coming full circle. I remember I played in the Volunteers of America when I was still in college and now as a pro, doing what I love every day. I think it's just like more of like appreciation like about my mindset.”

 

GREEN LEARNS MAJOR LESSONS

Jaye Marie Green entered the final round of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open one stroke off the lead. Her first win, let alone her first major victory, was well within her grasp. But derailed by three bogeys on the back nine, her final-round 74 dropped her out of contention and into a tie for fifth.

Green fully admits that the disappointment got to her. Since that week in Charleston, she has missed six of 11 cuts and only cracked the top 25 once. Throw in a move and all the trappings of a hectic traveling life, and it’s understandable that the 25-year-old Floridian would be frustrated. So two good rounds at the Volunteers of America Classic, paired with an inspirationally sunny outlook on life, were exactly what she needed.

“I think about that Open almost every day. That was a tough one for me,” said Green after her second-round 68 at the Volunteers of America Classic. “You know, people say, oh, great top-five, but in my heart, I won that thing. I learned a lot just to stay patient. And there's more to life than golf. It helps keep my attitude good because at the end of the day we're all people and I'm more about, like, I want people to feel good.”

That patience paid off in the blistering weather conditions at Old American Golf Club. Green has only carded two bogeys in her first 36 holes, something she attributes to throwing her game back a few months, when things were clicking at the U.S. Women’s Open.

“Honestly, I've been working on not changing. Sometimes when I want to get better, I'm like, you could get better without changing things,” said Green, who is tied for fifth at -7 heading into the weekend. “So that's what I've been really working on is just kind of swinging my swing, playing my own game, because that's what got me close at the U.S. Open, so I've been trying to just like harness that energy.”

 

PERRY PLAYING UNDER PRESSURE AGAIN

Katherine Perry rolled into her third Volunteers of America Classic with one goal: avoid Q-Series. Perry, who ranks No. 118 on the Official Money List, knows she needs a high finish to miss the two-week event in her home state of North Carolina. She inched closer to her goal after posting a second-round 68 to comfortably make the cut at -7 and head into the weekend tied for fourth.

“I felt really good about yesterday and today. I feel like I'm swinging really well,” said Perry. “I feel like I'm trending in the right direction. Putting has felt really good, just a mistake here or there, but I feel like emotionally I kind of stayed pretty constant, which is the goal.”

Perry knows what it is like to play with mounting pressure on her back. She posted her career-best finish of T5 at the 2019 Pure Silk Championship after Monday qualifying. The result catapulted her up the LPGA Priority List, earning enough official money before the first reshuffle of the season to jump from Category 18 to 13.

“It has been a career year. It's been a little up and down, just the excitement of the Pure Silk and then playing pretty well, making a lot of cuts there,” said Perry. “I didn't keep moving forward like I really wanted to, but I feel like my game's in a good spot right now. Just keep getting better.”

With two rounds of play left to determine her full Tour card fate, Perry reminded herself what all the time off the course could bring. “In October I want to take my nephew to the fair and hang out with him,” said Perry. “That would be great.”

 

PLAYER NOTES

Rolex Rankings No. 31 Brittany Altomare (67-66)

  • Altomare’s 133 ties her second-best career 36-hole score; her best is 131 from the 2019 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
  • She hit 13 of 13 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
  • This is her fifth year on the LPGA Tour; her best career finish is T2 most recently from the 2019 Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
  • This is Altomare’s fourth Volunteers of America Classic; she finished T43 in 2016, missed the cut in 2017 and finished T46 in 2018
  • She has not missed a cut in 21 starts in 2019; her best finish is a tie for second at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
  • Altomare made her U.S. Solheim Cup team debut in 2019; she went 2-1-1
  • In May 2013, turned professional and played on the Symetra Tour, where she posted a career-best seventh-place finish at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic
  • Played collegiate golf at the University of Virginia where she recorded three victories, was named the 2013 ACC Player of the Year, and was a four-time All-American

 

Rolex Rankings No. 130 Alena Sharp (68-65)

  • Sharp’s 133 is her third-best career 36-hole score; her best is 130, shot at the 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
  • She hit 12 of 13 fairways and 10 of 18 greens, with 23 putts
  • This is her 14th year on the LPGA Tour; her best career finish is fourth at the 2016 CP Women’s Open
  • This is Sharp’s seventh Volunteers of America Classic; her best finish is solo 14th in 2014
  • She has made 14 cuts in 20 starts in 2019, with her best finish of fifth at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational where she teamed with Brooke Henderson
  • Sharp posted one top-10 finish on the Symetra Tour; she tied for 52nd at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn non-exempt status for the 2005 LPGA season
  • She returned to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, where she tied for 16th to earn exempt status for the 2006 LPGA season
  • Sharp represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she finished 30th

 

Rolex Rankings No. 270 Cheyenne Knight (66-67)

  • Knight’s 133 is her career-low 36-hole score; her previous best was 134 from the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup
  • She hit 11 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
  • She is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; she has made nine cuts in 18 starts, with her best finish a tie for 29th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
  • She is competing in her second Volunteers of America Classic; she finished T29 in 2016 as a non-member
  • Finished T27 at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status for the 2019 season
  • After finishing the 2018 college golf season, recorded four top-10 finishes on the Symetra Tour including a season-best T6 result at the Symetra Tour Championship
  • At Alabama, Knight was named WGCA First Team All-American in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and was the 2017 SEC Player of the Year

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