Former Nittany Lion Golfer Qualifies for LPGA Tour
(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) December 6, 2005 - Former Penn State golfer Katie Futcher finished four strokes under to qualify for the LPGA tour at the 2005 Qualifying School Final in Daytona, Beach, Fla. Though standout Japanese 20-yr-old Ai Miyazato won the tournament with a phenomenal -17, Futcher turned a few heads when spectators found out she had played at Penn State.
¡°I got a few WE ARE¡¯s and that made me really proud¡I bleed blue and white and it always helps to get that support. ¡± says Katie, who still carries a Nittany Lion on her driver and occasionally sports Penn State gear when competing.
Penn State coach St. Pierre, who caddied for Futcher over the weekend, was very excited about the finish but not surprised. ¡°When I asked Katie what she wanted out of this weekend, she said she wanted to qualify for the LPGA. She went out there and did just that¡Katie stayed real to her commitment.¡±
Futcher started off the tournament with a one-under par 71. ¡°She had great distance,¡± said St. Pierre, ¡°and she was consistent with it all weekend.¡± Futcher knocked in two birdies on that day, securing a spot in the top pairings for the next round. On day two she continued to move up in the standings to ninth place after another stellar performance.
The third round turned out to be a good day for most of the golfers, including Futcher. She shot an impressive 69 on the day, bringing her right to the front line chase of first place Miyazato, who finished round three at 11 stokes under par. Day four saw Futcher, tied with 13-year-pro Kate Golden finish at -5 strokes. This meant the two would be paired with Miyazato for the fifth and final round Sunday.
¡°We knew from the first day that Ai was going to be there,¡± commented St. Pierre. ¡°There was going to be lots of media following us in that final round. So I took a step back and said ¡®okay we need to re-approach this.¡¯¡±
Katie also knew what she was getting into. ¡°I had never played with Ai before, but I knew what was coming. I knew there would be a big group with her...It never bothered me, if anything if keeps you more focused because you make sure to block it all out.¡±
Futcher shot a 73 in the final round to finish tied with Brooke Tull in fourth place overall, securing her a bid to the LPGA Tour. ¡°In that situation you have to really trust that you prepared well enough¡It doesn¡¯t really matter how you felt you did because I accomplished what I wanted to do.¡± Overall, St. Pierre was proud of arguably the best golfer to come through the Penn State system. ¡°Katie did a lot of good things all week¡Hopefully the sponsors looking at stars on the rise got a good look at her.¡±
Scores for this qualifying tournament were higher this year than in the past, which can be partly blamed on the two days of torrential rain in Daytona Beach during the practice rounds.
The next LPGA Tour will begin in early spring of 2006. For more information and complete tournament results please visit www.LPGA.com.