Kristi O'Brien, a graduate of Bishop Luers and IUPUI entered her first ever Q-School in Palm Springs, California. Basically in the California desert. I'm sure she was more nervous than anytime in her entire life. Over the last few years this was the week that Kristi has geared all her hard work towards~Q-School, an LPGA Qualifying Tournament-Stage I! They play it on 2 courses-The Arnold Palmer course, and the Diana Shore course. This is an LPGA Major tournament. It used to be called The Diana Shore Invitational, back when Diana was still alive.
It was hot, with daily temps as high as 114 degrees the day Kristi took to the course. And there were 241 ladies trying to qualify, from 33 different countries! A third of all the golfers were from foreign lands. Each golfer played 2 rounds each on the 2 courses. The top 100 golfers would make it out of Q-school and advance to the Stage II Qualifying Tournament.
Kristi was one of 5 Indiana golfers in the field.
She started out with a one under par 71, on the tougher Diana Shore course. The second day could have been a disaster. She struggled with her ball striking all day long. On the front nine, she hit only 2 GIR (greens in regulation). But her chipping and putting was great. She took only 12 putts in 9 holes. The back nine wasn't much better, but basically she turned a potentially terrible round in the low to mid 80s, into a 78. Kristi fell from 13th place after the first day, all the way to tying for 83rd place! Very disappointing, but hardly a disaster, there were 2 rounds to go.
Day 3 was 180 degrees different. She absolutely had her best ball striking round of the tournament, hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 15 greens in regulation! Even Par 72. She moved up to T-62nd place.
Ben Moster, her newlywed hubby and part-time caddy, said that the final day pre-round putting and driving range tune-ups was like a morgue! Nobody was visiting with anyone else. No chatter. Silence. Alot of nervous players, and alot of focus on preparation.
D-Day was here!
Kristi herself said it was the day that she was most nervous. After all, this was the tougher Diana Shore course, with tees set at the same distances that they play the LPGA major tourney!
Kristi birdied the very 1st hole. This set the tone. She shot a solid one over par 73, with 3 birdies and 4 bogeys. She never varied beyond one under and one over par all day. She knew when she walked off the final green that she had actually reached her dream! ...at least her 1st dream!
Kristi passed Q-school on her very first try! She placed T-42nd out of 241 worldwide golfers, shooting a 294 total. These 241 ladies were some of the best female golfers in the world, not counting ones already on Tour, and she beat almost 200 of them!
Kristi made the cut by 5 strokes.
She only had between 26 and 29 putts each day. Her short game was awesome!
By qualifying, Kristi will get 2014 "STATUS" on the Symetric Tour, at the very least. (The Symetric Tour is like the Hotel Fitness Championship web.com men's tour that was played at Sycamore Hills Golf Club a few weekends ago.) She doesn't have full status yet, meaning entry into every single tournament. That depends on how high she finishes in the 2nd stage of Q-School in October. She also still has a chance at getting an LPGA card by passing Q-School 2, and doing well in the December final Q-School 3.
First things first!
She already belongs to a Tour, one that now pays more golfers, and much more prize money than the smaller SunCoast series of tourneys in Florida, and the Canadian Tour up north. She also will have access to some LPGA Monday Qualifiers. In those one-day qualifiers, if she does well on that Monday, she'll have a chance to actually play in the LPGA event of that week.
Now she can plan her year ahead, while chasing her lifelong dream and playing the game she so loves!
Kristi's parents, Tom and Liz are so excited for Kristi! Congratulations!