Round seven of LPGA Q-Series got off to a late start after fog delayed tee times by 30 minutes, pushing back the first starting time to 9 a.m. CT. However, the delay did not seem to impact some players who continued to fire low rounds at Highland Oaks in Dothan Ala. One of those rounds came from Hae Ran Ryu, who signed for a bogey-free 6-under, 66 and now sits alone at the top of the leaderboard at -25.
“I wanted to play well coming into the Q-School. I think I got a little ambitious at the beginning today, but I was able to finish with a bogey-free round,” said Ryu, who made five birdies on the front nine to go out in 31. “I was a little tired towards the end, so I missed some birdie chances.”
Despite leaving a few out on the course, the 21-year-old was happy with the opportunities of which she was able to take advantage. Her highlight of the day came on the par-4, 16th, a hole she hadn’t made birdie on until Saturday. Leading the field at -25 puts the Korean in a comfortable position with 18 holes left to play. While an LPGA Tour card won’t be solidified until the final putt drops on Sunday, Ryu feels that she’s one step closer to her dream of teeing it up in the big leagues.
“Korean golf has been really strong, and a lot of older Korean players have done really well on the (LPGA Tour). I think that I'm a step closer to making that dream come true of earning LPGA status,” said Ryu. “I have one more day left. I know that I'm leading, so it would be good to win. Even if I don't, I think it will still be a memorable tournament and helpful for me to grow as a player, too.”
In a share of second, two strokes behind Ryu are Germany’s Aline Krauter and Isi Gabsa. Krauter signed for a 4-under, 68 that consisted of six birdies and two bogeys and like Ryu, the former Stanford Cardinal is just one round away from making her lifelong dream a reality.
“It would mean the world for sure [to get a LPGA Tour card]. I feel like it's pretty early on in my career, but it would be great to get that started this year,” said the soon-to-be 23-year-old. “And getting to the LPGA (Tour) pretty soon, that would be super exciting.”
Gabsa followed her Friday, 8-under, 64 with an even-par, 72 on Saturday. Her round started strong, making a birdie on No. 2, but made the turn at even-par, 36 after making a double bogey on No. 4. While she didn’t see any large numbers on the back nine, Gabsa had to balance two bogeys with two birdies to finish strong. The 27-year-old is familiar with playing on the big stage – earning a season-best finish of T21 at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G – but feels the pressure to keep scoring low in Lower Alabama.
“It was a little bit weird. I was nervous this morning for some reason,” said Gabsa. “But it’s a privileged position that I'm in right now, so I just want to keep on playing good, hitting good shots, and catch the first one and see how that goes.”
Rounding out the top five are Germany’s Polly Mack and Colombian Valery Plata, tied for fourth at -22. Both saw under-par rounds as 2022 Epson Tour rookie, Mack signed for a 6-under, 66 and former Michigan State University Spartan, Plata posted a 3-under, 69. Plata carded her fourth bogey-free round of Q-Series and says that thinking about earning LPGA Tour Membership sometimes brings a tear to her eye.
“It would mean the world. Some days I'm on the golf course and I just think about it for a few seconds and I get a little emotional,” said Plata. “I try to get my mind off that quick and try to stay as present as possible and as grounded in the moment as I can.”
Sweden’s Ellinor Sudow fired the round of the day, an 8-under, 64 that saw her card nine birdies, four of which were consecutive from holes 12 to 15. A total of 48 players sit inside the cut line at -11, including Karis Davidson, Alexa Pano, Soo Bin Joo and Min Lee who played their way into the top-45 and ties cutoff for 2023 LPGA Tour Membership.