Two tie for medal honors as 20 earn 2013 LPGA Tour cards at Q-School

Rebecca Lee-Bentham
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Rebecca Lee-Bentham shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday to tie Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn for the top spot in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament.
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PGA.com news services

Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Sunday, December 02, 2012 | 5:51 p.m.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday to tie Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn for the top spot in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament, leading the 20 players who earned full status.

Lee-Bentham and Jutanugarn finished the five-round event at 13-under 347 at LPGA International. Jutanugarn shot a 74 after taking a six-stroke lead into the day.

LPGA Q-SCHOOL

At the end of five rounds, the top 20 players will earn their 2013 LPGA Tour cards.

Japan's Ayako Uehara was third at 12 under after a 69. Kathleen Ekey followed at 10 under after a 65, and Lisa McCloskey and Japan's Chie Arimura were 8 under. McCloskey had a 71, and Arimura shot 70.

Two-time tour winner Laura Diaz improved her status, tying for eighth at 6 under after a 72. Christina Kim, also a two-time tour winner, failed to improve her status, shooting a 74 to tie for 39th at 1 over.

Felicity Johnson also earned full status along with Karlin Beck, Stephanie Sherlock, Kayla Mortellaro, Kim Welch, Brooke Pancake, Austin Ernst, Caroline Masson, amateur Marina Stuetz, Lauren Doughtie, Nicole Jeray, Taylore Karle and Irene Cho.

Doughtie, Jeray, Karle and Cho survived a seven-player playoff for the final spots.

Lee-Bentham drained a 60-foot birdie putt on the final hole to earn co-medalist honors with Jutanugarn. The Toronto native and former University of Texas standout started the day six strokes off the lead but carded five birdies and no bogeys.

“I wasn’t really thinking about coming in first or anything,” said Lee-Bentham. “I just wanted to play well and focus on striking it well and making putts. I’ve been waiting for this for a while. It’s been a long grind for everybody out here.”

Jutanugarn's 74 was her worst score of the week by four strokes, and her first round without a birdie, and she broke a 47-hole bogey-free streak on the par-4 10th. But the 19-year-old kept things in perspective afterward.

“I’m so happy to get my card,” said Jutanugarn. “I got it and that was my goal.”

Ekey, a 2012 LPGA Tour rookie, shot the low round of the week with her 65, helping her jump from a tie for 14th to sole position in fourth place.

"I knew I needed to play well,” said Ekey. “It’s so easy today to press, press, press so I really tried to stay patient.”

The Ohio native carded three birdies on the front nine and four on the back, and said finishing in the top 20 relieved some of the frustration she had through her first year on Tour.

“After I had such a good year in 2011, and then this year, I had really high expectations for myself,” said Ekey. “It was so hard for me. I really struggled and it was really, really hard. I’m just so happy I kept pushing and kept working and am so blessed it worked out this way.”

Mortellaro, a University of Idaho grad, began the final round tied for 39th but put together her best round of the week with a bogey-free 5-under 67.

“I actually wasn’t nervous at all,” said Mortellaro. “I was just concentrated on that cliché of one shot at a time. I had no idea of the scores throughout the day. I just needed to ask where I stood. It’s kind of shocking at the moment.”

Welch also made one of the big jumps of the day when she matched her first-round 68, and moved from a tie for 30th to a tie for 11th.

Here are the 20 players who earned their 2013 LPGA Tour cards:

1. Rebecca Lee-Bentham -13
1. Moriya Jutanugarn -13
3. Ayako Uehara -12
4. Kathleen Ekey -10
5. Lisa McCloskey -8
5. Chie Arimura -8
7. Felicity Johnson -7
8. Laura Diaz -6
8. Karlin Beck -6
10. Stephanie Sherlock -5
11. Marina Stuetz -4
11. Caroline Masson -4
11. Brooke Pancake -4
11. Austin Ernst -4
11. Kayla Mortellaro -4
11. Kim Welch -4
17. Irene Cho -3
17. Nicole Jeray -3
17. Taylore Karle -3
17. Lauren Doughtie -3