LONGMONT — In a season where career achievements were dropping like gimme putts, Kelly Jacques sank another just before it ended.
At the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament earlier this month, Jacques lasted through five rounds of a five-player playoff for the final fulltime spots and earned partial status on the LPGA Tour. By the playoffs’ end, the former Skyline High School state champion realized yet another of her lifelong golf dreams.
“That’s what every girl that qualifies has been dreaming of since they were 4 or 5 or 6 years old,” Jacques said. “It’s a lifelong dream and you put in so much work for it. To realize that I’m going to be playing in a few tour events this season is amazing.”
Knowing she needed to finish in the top 20 to earn a fulltime tour card and feeling as though she’d be surprised if she didn’t, Jacques played well through the first five rounds on two different courses. But one bad hole on the last day landed her in the five-hole sudden death playoff.
Tied for 17th place, Jacques, Lauren Doughtie, Taylore Karle, Nicole Jeray, Irene Cho, Breanna Elliot and Jiayun Li all lasted three holes before Karle and Doughtie birdied the final two holes to lock up their spots on Tour.
Jeray, Cho, Elliot and Jacques battled for two more holes before Jeray and Cho each birdied the 18th hole to earn their 2013 status. Jacques shot even for the five-hole playoff, including a 40-foot birdie putt to stay alive on the fifth hole.
She became one of 35 rookies on the LPGA Tour and Jacques will probably get into seven LPGA events in 2013. There is a re-shuffle in early July during which the top 80 players get reshuffled into full status.
“Up until this year, I’ve never been able to play a full season,” Jacques said. “When you’re trying to get better, it’s impossible to compete against these girls who don’t have a full-time job and you don’t have the time and resources.”
Jacques said that problem cleared up a bit when an individual sponsor came forward this season to help her with her Q-School preparation.
Her tour qualification came five months after Jacques took another huge step in qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open. She has also appeared on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break” Ireland reality TV show, played on the LPGA Futures Tour and won two Colorado Class 5A state titles while playing for Skyline High School in Longmont.
Jacques said she is having such success of late because she has figured out how to score and manage courses well enough to give herself more consistent rounds under par. Now, she has an offseason to work on improving even further.
“It’s one step closer than I was last year,” Jacques said. “As long as I keep improving, I’ll be happy.”
When she is not playing a Tour event, Jacques will continue playing on the Symetra Tour.
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