Dana Finkelstein (Chandler, Arizona) was using the wrong side of her pin sheet at the start of her round, but she was able to laugh about it after her stellar 7-under, 65 to match the Garden City Charity Classic course record, which was set earlier in the day by Jennifer Ha (Calgary, Alberta.) Finkelstein and Ha both tallied eight birdies against just one bogey to lead at Buffalo Dunes on Thursday. Olympian Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) and former LSU golfer Lindsay Gahm (Louisville, Kentucky) share third at 4-under, 68. Last week’s winner, Nelly Korda (Bradenton, Florida), posted a 3-under, 69 and is in a tie for fifth with Michelle Piyapattra (Eastvale, California) and Tracy Stanford (Midland, Texas).

Finkelstein, 23, who started on the back nine, had her pin sheet reversed to start and missed by 60-feet on one and 50-feet on two. She quickly realized something wasn’t right and began to attack. After pars on her first three holes, she ran off three straight birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15. She made birdie on 18 to make the turn in 32.

“I didn’t get off to the best start, but that’s how the day went because my head has been in a fog,” said Finkelstein, who is dealing with family matters back home. “Maybe it is a blessing in disguise because I really didn’t think about how low I was going so that helped with the nerves.”

Finkelstein’s round got even better after an eagle on her tenth hole of the day. She had 132-yards to the pin with her third shot and made eagle.

“I think it took one bounce and went right in,” explained Finkelstein, who ranks 13th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list. “It was a good momentum builder to keep it rolling on that back nine.”

Finkelstein is coming off a T5 finish last week at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. She has six top 10 finishes and 11 total top 25 finishes.

“My golf game is in a good place, I feel like my ball striking has been good, but my putter has held me back,” said Finkelstein. “I worked really hard on that in the off week and I figured some things out so hopefully the putts keep dropping.”

Finkelstein was the runner-up for the ANNIKA Award in 2015 at UNLV. She was a three-time Mountain West Golfer of the Year.

HA FEELS CONFIDENT AFTER TWO LPGA EVENTS

Jennifer Ha (Calgary, Alberta) has played the last two weeks on the LPGA Tour before this week and used the momentum to post a 7-under, 65. Ha, a rookie on Tour, made eight birdies against just one bogey.

“In a tournament, this was my best round of the year,” said Ha, who breaks the record shared by Vicky Hurst and Laetitia Beck. “I started off really well with two pars and then three birdies in a row and that kick-started me to a good round today.”

Ha, 22, had to do some scrambling as she hit 9-of-14 fairways, but used a hot flatstick to make up for it. She attempted just 27 putts during her round.

“I hit some errant tee shots today, but I hit a lot of shots inside 20 feet and my putter was working,” said Ha. “When I left myself with 15-20 feet, I was able to make them.”

Ha has played in eight Symetra Tour events this season and has one top 10 finish, a tie for seventh at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. She posted back-to-back rounds of 69 before the tourney was shortened to 36 holes due to weather.

The former Kent State star spent the last two weeks playing on the LPGA Tour at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and the Manulife LPGA Classic. She said she learned a lot and the experience is helping her this week.

“It definitely gave me more confidence going into these rounds thinking that I can play on the LPGA,” said Ha, who missed the cut in both events, but still posted a 71 and a 72. “I played with Maria McBride and she was awesome. When we talked, she gave me so much confidence and that is what I needed going into this week.

Ha, who was the MAC Golfer of the Year as a junior and First-Team All-MAC as a senior at Kent State, said her first year on Tour has been an adjustment.

“There are so many good players that can shoot 7-under, 8-under every week,” said Ha. “It is definitely hard to keep up.”

Ha ranks 113th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list so her major goal is to play well heading into Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament, which is Oct. 17-23.

She also likes Buffalo Dunes and feels like it suits her game.

“It’s a pretty tough course, the rough is long so if you go in the rough it is penalizing, but thankfully I didn’t,” said Ha. “The greens definitely hold here and I love being able to go at the pins.”

TRACY STANFORD MAKES THREE 30-FOOTERS

Tracy Stanford (Midland, Texas) made three birdies in a row to end her day with a 3-under, 69. Stanford made three birdies and three bogeys through her first 15 holes before the flurry to finish.

“It was nice because I had it going for awhile and then I made two bogeys in a row and I was a little upset with that,” said Stanford, who made bogeys on 14 and 15. “I just sticked to my game plan and it worked out well.”

Stanford hit it to eight feet on 16 and 17 and then dropped a 30-footer on 18.

Stanford, whose rookie year on Tour was 2010, missed the cut in the last two events so she was happy with her rebound.

The 29-year-old has played in five events this season. She has four career top 10 finishes.

OF NOTE

  • No. 1 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, Madelene Sagstrom, posted a 2-under, 70 with three birdies and one bogey.
  • No. 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, Marissa Steen, posted a 2-under, 70 and stands T8.
  • Local Garden City product, Abbi Shaddix, carded a 10-over, 82.

Click here for the leaderboard

 

Written By: Symetra Tour Communications

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