COLORADO SPRINGS — Kelly Jacques landed a spot on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break” reality TV show last year.
But really, her big break came on Sunday.
That’s when the golfer who grew up in Longmont hit the big time by earning a berth in the U.S. Women’s Open, arguably the most important tournament in women’s golf.
Jacques finished second — and gained one of three available national spots — out of a Sectional Qualifying field that originally numbered 78 at the West Course at Broadmoor Golf Club.
“This is like a dream,” the 26-year-old said. “Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting. It’s such a goal. And it’s one step closer to actually playing out there (on the LPGA Tour) full-time. It’s going to be really cool to be able to get a taste of what my life will be like in a little bit.”
Two days after finishing third in the HealthOne Colorado Women’s Open for the second time, Jacques shot rounds of 73-78 on Sunday for a 9-over-par 151 total.
She joined Denver’s Becca Huffer — like Jacques a two-time state high school champion — and Anya Sarai Alvarez of Tulsa, Okla., in qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open.
The national tournament will be played July 5-8 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.
Huffer, who finished a spot ahead of Jacques at the Colorado Women’s Open, claimed medalist honors Sunday with rounds of 70-75 for a 3-over-par 145 total.
Alvarez qualified at the Broadmoor for the U.S. Women’s Open for the second straight year, this time by sinking an 18-inch birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with Canadian amateur Jisoo Keel. Both posted 152 totals in regulation.
For Jacques, competing in the U.S. Women’s Open is the biggest accomplishment of her golf career.
“I think it is,” she said. “I haven’t really done too much since high school (at Skyline). I had a decent college career (at Oklahoma), but I didn’t do great. I was never an All-American, a standout in the country. I always felt I had more in me.
“My game is finally getting to the point where I feel like I can compete with the best.”
On a very formidable Broadmoor West Course, Jacques made three birdies on the day, but perhaps just as importantly, never carded anything worse than a bogey.
“I made a few mental mistakes and got tired in the middle of my second 18, but I bounced back from that, which I was proud of myself for,” said Jacques, who is playing on the Symetra (Futures) Tour this year. “I stuck with it but I could have definitely just fallen off the train there. But I was hitting the ball really well. I probably only mishit a few shots. I just couldn’t drop any putts today.”
All in all it was quite a memorable week for Jacques, who parlayed a strong Colorado Women’s Open showing into earning a spot on the biggest stage in women’s golf.
“When I was playing in the (Colorado Women’s) Open, I was like, ‘You know what? This is perfect timing with the qualifier right after,'” she said. “I was excited they were back-to-back.”
U.S. Women’s Open Sectional Qualifying
At Par-71 West Course at Broadmoor GC
Qualified for U.S. Women’s Open
Becca Huffer, Denver 70-75–145
Kelly Jacques, Longmont 73-78–151
Anya Sarai Alvarez, Tulsa 80-72–152
Alternates (in order)
a-Jisoo Keel, Canada 77-75–152
a-Alexandra Kaui, Hawaii 76-77–153