Jaclyn Lee and Katja Pogacar began a long stretch of Q-Series play over a week ago. After four rounds that concluded Sunday, the players get two days “off” then dive into another four day, 72 hole event. The 102 player in the field have obtained Symetra Tour status. After the divots settle on November 3rd, we’ll know who the low 45 players, and ties, will have earned LPGA status.
The final 72 holes were played on the Pinehurst #7 course.
Jaclyn had rounds of 76-70-74-70 for an event score of 290 and a Q-Series score of 569 to finish in 6th place and earn 2019 LPGA Tour status. For the eight round Series, Jaclyn played six rounds under par. That’s sustaining a pretty high level of play in what could be Jaclyn’s most meaningful tournament in a long time.
Jaclyn finished the Q-Series with 1 eagle, 26 birdies, 98 pars, and 17 bogeys and 2 double bogeys. That’s 125 of 144 holes (87%) played in par or better. Her opening round of 68 (-4) was the lowest score for the field for the day.
With her 2019 Tour Status, Jaclyn now has choices that need to be made. More on that below.
Katja, put on a spirited four rounds and improved her position 20 places, finishing in 77th in the Q-Series. She had rounds of 75-75-65-76-291. This was a 14 stroke improvement over her score at Pinehurst #6.
In my recap of the opening 72 holes of the Q-Series, I felt:
Katja needs to do a mental reset and look at the upcoming 72 holes as a new tournament to win, not an extension of what happened earlier in the week. She needs to clear her mind of “un-Katja” play and focus on “Katja play”.
Indeed she did. Her score on Pinehurst #7 of 291 (+3) was very competitive and highlighted by her Round 7 score of 65 (-7). Her Round 7 score was low score of the day. For eighteen holes, Katja was the best player on the course.
For six of her eight rounds, Katja averaged 75 strokes, with scores ranging from 74-76. This was very Katja-like – her Ladies European Tour (LET) scoring average is 73.3. Her opening round 81 was an aberration and I think that her 7th round 65 was a peek at her potential.
Katja heads back to the LET, which isn’t a bad place to be, at all. I think this Q-Series was a good experience for Katja and perhaps highlighted an area to work on; making more birdies. On the LET, Katja averages 2.5 birdies per round. At the Q-Series, for seven of her eight rounds, she averaged 2 birdies per round.
Looking at her LET stats, an area to work on might be her driving. Although she averages 247 yards off the tee (not bad), she’s hitting 52% of fairways (not good). Consequently, Katja is hitting only 57% (10/18) greens in regulation. She’s not giving herself many birdie chances from the rough Her short game stats are pretty solid, so Katja has a good foundation. Once she finds the fairway more frequently, Katja will see a a lot more birdie opportunities and her scores will drop significantly.
Jaclyn has some interesting choices to make, per Golfweek:
Sleep doesn’t come easy these days for Therese Hession. The decorated Ohio State coach might lose her best player, senior Jaclyn Lee, to the professional ranks in a matter of days. And with a promising recruit joining the Buckeye’s roster in January, Hession’s team might drop from NCAA match-play contender to let’s-see-if-we-can-make regionals.
“She’s the lifeblood of our team right now,” said Hession of Lee. “You’re talking 25 to 30 shots a tournament effect on us.”
To put this into another context, Jaclyn was the only Buckeye to have an aggregate score in the Fall Schedule that was under par. That’s a lot of performance to see head down the highway. While Jaclyn was participating in the stages of the Q-Series, the OSUWG played two tournaments and a glimpse of ‘GaJ’ (Golf after Jaclyn). Let’s just say that the Buckeyes dearly missed Jaclyn’s contributions.
The more I’ve thought about this, the more ambivalent I am on Jaclyn’s decision. I wish she’d finish her career at Ohio State and get one more run at B1G Tourney and the NCAA’s.
Per the Golf Channel:
“I want to talk to my parents, family, friends and coaches, over the next few weeks,” Lee said. “There are a lot of things to get in order to make a decision like this. It’s not clear cut for me. I need some time to mull it over.”
On the other hand, if Jaclyn feels this is her opportunity to grab the Golden Ring that the LPGA may provide, I support that decision. I think that whichever route she takes, it will be well considered.