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Sweetgrass vets advance to LPGA Tour

December 4, 2012
By Dennis Grall , For the Daily Press

Three veterans of the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass advanced to the LPGA Tour Sunday after the women's golf qualifying school ended.

Kathleen Ekey, Lauren Doughtie and Nicole Jeray finished in the top 20 of Stage III qualifying in Daytona Beach, Fla. to earn spots with the LPGA in 2013. Ekey, who played in the initial tournament at Sweetgrass Golf Club in 2011, was on the LPGA Tour this past season but did not play well enough to retain her card. She finished fourth at the five-round Q school event.

Jeray tied for second at the 2012 Sweetgrass event. Jeray, from Berwyn, Ill., has participated in Q school 19 times and has spent time on the LPGA Tour. Jeray, 42, has battled narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, throughout her playing career.

Doughtie and Jeray were among seven players who tied for the final spots and were forced into a playoff to determine the 20 players who who would qualify, with Jeray and Irene Cho involved in a two-hole, four-player showdown after Doughtie and Taylore Karle emerged to the tour after the first playoff hole.

Kelly Jacques, who also played at Sweetgrass in 2012, was eliminated in the playoff but is among another 28 players to earn Category 17 status and some consideration for LPGA Tour events.

Other Sweetgrass vets in Category 17 include Hanna Kang, Paz Echeverria and Shasta Averyhardt, of Flint.

Among Sweetgrass veterans who did not earn LPGA status at tour school were Sara Brown, who tied for 11th this season at Sweetgrass, former U.S. Open champion Birdie Kim, who tied for 19th, Jean Chua, Valentine Derrey, Natalie Sheary, Megan McCrystal, Ginger Howard, Jackie Sweeney, Therese Koelbaek and Jamie Mullett. Howard, 17, is regarded as one of the most promising youngsters on the Symetra Tour that will return to Sweetgrass June 28-30.

Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok and Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Toronto shared medalist honors at Q school with a five-round total of 13-under-par 347. Bentham sank a 60-foot birdie putt on the final hole to share first place.

Ayako Uehara of Japan was third at 348 and Ekey shot 350, capped by a tourney-best 65 Sunday.



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