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Living on the edge

November 10, 2017

Most professional golf tournaments use a predetermined cut line to winnow down the competition for the final round or rounds. Typically, 144 to 156 golfers start out, and the cut is set at the low 70 and ties after two rounds.

Slicing the field by half puts added stress on the touring pros, because the economics of the tournament system are brutally efficient – don't make the cut, don't make the money.

Jackie Stoelting, Olafia Kristinsdottir and Simin Feng had each made only four cuts in the 2017 season as they began their second round at the 2017 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. Each golfer must have felt the pressure to make the cut for the third and final round Sunday. 

Feng was in pretty good shape at 4-under, tied for ninth as the second round began at 12:15 p.m. at the 10th hole. However, Kristinsdottir was just beyond the cut at 2-over, while Stoelting was right on the line at 1-over.

The Bay Course's short par 4 may have calmed their nerves a bit, as Kristinsdottir made birdie and the other two made routine pars. 

However, the high fescue rough nearly surrounding the par 3 11th green caught their immediate attention. The hole was set 4 yards from the back edge and 6 yards from the right side. Feng and Kristinsdottir's tee shots landed in the middle of the green and scooted into the high stuff beyond. Stoelting's tee shot landed in fescue just short of the green, but bounced softly to the fringe, 35 feet or so from the hole. 

The two fescue-bound golfers took unplayable lie relief, with Kristinsdottir making bogey and Feng making double. Stoelting made things more interesting than she wanted with a first putt that rolled 9 feet past, but she recovered for a good par save.

Feng bounced back with a birdie on the 12th, but Kristinsdottir made another bogey on 13. Bogeys on 15 and 16 pushed the Icelander further from the cut line. Feng's bogey on 16 dropped her to 2-under, and she seemed a bit rattled when she made another bogey on the short par 3 17th.

Meanwhile Stoelting kept making pars, with her first bogey coming on the 17th with a nasty short lip-out on a short putt. All three golfers made nice birdies on the par 5 18th, lightening the mood a bit, followed by three pars on hole No. 1, their 10th of the day. 

Then it was Stoelting's turn for some trouble on the long par 4 second hole. She was sitting 131 yards out after an unsatisfactory drive drifted into the right rough; the wind blew down range and the hole sat 7 yards from the back and 4 yards from the left edge. She hit a pitching wedge because of the risk of going long into the marsh beyond. Stoelting's shot stopped a few yards short of the green, but after a good chip, she watched her putt for par bounce off line.

Feng made birdies on 3 and 5 and pars on 4 and 6, while the other two parred all four holes. By then, however, only three holes remained to improve their chances.

The seventh hole, a long par 3 with the hole set far back and to the right, knocked Kristinsdottir out of the running. A good drive was followed by a bad first putt, leaving her with a 10-footer for par that she couldn't convert. She fell further back when her second shot on the short par 4 eighth ran off the back of the green, leading to another bogey.

Meanwhile, Stoelting also bogeyed the seventh when her chip shot came up well short and she failed to make the 15-footer. At that point she was 3-over. 

On the eighth hole, Stoelting's approach shot fell into the right front bunker, and her blast from there went 12 feet past the hole. She then made one of her best putts of the day, saving par and her chance to make the cut. 

Hitting into the wind on the par 5 ninth, Stoelting and Feng laid up for safe third shots into the green. Kristinsdottir blasted her second shot to the left rough about hole high, and made birdie. Her 5-over total wasn't good enough, but that birdie brought a smile to her face.

Feng finished where she started, 4-under and in position to contend for a high finish the next day. Stoelting's par putt from 1 foot kept her at 3-over, tied with nine others at the cut line. "I'll take it," she said. "I pride myself for fighting, staying in there, especially on that putt on eight – [it] was really big."

First Tee Pro-Am a success 

The Rookery North golf course hosted the First Tee of Delaware Pro-Am tournament Nov. 1, raising more than $4,000 for the Delaware chapter of the popular national program supporting junior golf. 

Rehoboth Beach Country Club’s George Bushby won the pro contest by shooting par. The Bayside Resort group of club pro Greyson Rossi and amateurs Kelly Hawkins, Ken Barnas and Daniel Barnas won the team competition.