The final stretch of LPGA Q-Series is under way with an eventful start to round five. After a 90 minute fog delay, players finally teed off No. 1 of Highland Oaks Golf Course’s Highlands Course and No. 10 of the Marshwood Course at 9 a.m. CT. University of Louisville alum Lauren Hartlage remained at the top of the leaderboard after signing for her fifth straight round in the 60s. The Kentucky native leads the field at 17-under.
“I played here last year so I'm pretty comfortable out at these courses,” said Hartlage. “It hasn't been the best year out on the LPGA, but I'm pretty happy with how I've been working recently and it's nice to have those five rounds in the 60s. Last year I was working my way up, so this is a different experience. I haven't really been at the top of the leaderboard in a while. It's kind of fun to be up here and have a kind of new experience.”
Hartlage carded four birdies and a lone bogey on Thursday, walking off No. 18 at 3-under. The 2022 LPGA Tour rookie had a critical par save on the par-4, 5th, hitting an stellar second shot from a questionable lie that ended up being the most memorable highlight of her day, maybe even the week.
“I had a tree root right on my ball, and I was like, all right, just hit it and see where it goes,” said Hartlage. “I hit it on the green to about 15 feet, and I think that was definitely the shot of the week so far.”
With five rounds complete and three left to play, the 24-year-old reminds herself to stay patient and take everything shot by shot. Her focus is giving herself the best opportunities for success.
“I do mindfulness practice, so that's been helping me,” said Hartlage. “If my mind wanders, I center my breath and focus on the present moment, so that's been pretty helpful this week.”
Five players sit one stroke behind Hartlage, in a share of second place. Aline Krauter, Polly Mack, Chanettee Wannasaen, Valery Plata and Riley Rennell all carded under-par rounds and all head into the sixth round at 16-under.
The round of the day and round of the tournament came from Krauter, who fired a bogey free ,10-under, 62. The German hasn’t made a bogey since round three on the Falls Course at Magnolia Grove in Dothan, Ala, 39 holes ago. The last person to shoot 62 or better during Q-School was Jaye Marie Green in 2013, who carded a 62 in the first round that year.
“I think I had a lot of momentum out there and I just used that to my advantage,” said Krauter. “I hit a couple really close, tapped them in, and then I made a couple really good putts.”
Plata was on track to sign for her fourth consecutive bogey-free round but broke the streak with a double bogey on No. 14. Seven birdies balanced out the slip up on the back nine, keeping the Michigan State University Spartan well under par at 5-under.
“It's a long tournament. Eight rounds of golf and lots of hours,” said Plata. “Lots of mistakes are probably going to happen. I had three rounds with no bogeys though, so it was a bit weird. I'm like, oh, man, my streak just ended. I just remind myself how good I've been playing all day and all last week. I just kept pushing a little bit.”
Sitting in a tie for seventh at -15 are Germany’s Isi Gabsa and Duke University alum Lindy Duncan. Epson Tour winner Kum-Kang Park, Thailand’s Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, Korean Hae Ran Ryu and 2022 LPGA Tour rookie Maddie Szeryk are tied for ninth at -14. A total of 28 players are at 10-under or better and 48 players currently sit inside the top-45 and ties cutoff to earn LPGA Tour Membership.