Emily Tubert (Burbank, California), a three-time All-American at Arkansas, posted a 4-under, 68 on Friday at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout to grab the 18-hole lead at Mystic Creek Golf Club. Tubert birdied five of her final six holes to post the low number of the day.

Volvik Race for the Card money list No. 1, Madelene Sagstrom (Enkoping, Sweden), and Kathleen Ekey (Sharon Township, Ohio) share second at 3-under, 69. A total of 15 players finished under-par on Friday.

Tubert, 24, started on the back nine and made bogey on her first hole. She made two birdies and two bogeys over the final four holes on her front to turn in 1-over.

Tubert said the turning point came on the third hole, her 12th of the day.

“I missed the green long right and had a tricky chip shot and I didn’t hit it well, but thankfully it trickled onto the green and I made a 16-footer for par,” explained Tubert. “I put a good stroke on it and then I had the stretch of four birdies in a row.”

Tubert had her ball striking and putting dialed in over the final six holes.

“I finished with a good birdie on nine after a 315-yard drive,” said Tubert. “I finally got a peak at the leaderboard and I knew I had a putt to move to the top and was happy to make it.”

Tubert has three top 10 finishes this year, but has finished outside the top 40 in each of the last three events. She used the off week before El Dorado to find her form.

“I worked with my coach (Brady Riggs) harder than I have all year on my game during the off week,” explained Tubert. “I felt really uncomfortable in Garden City.”

Tubert began working with her new coach just a week before the season started so she has dealt with changes on the fly.

“I’ve been learning a new swing and technique while competing and I’ve had a much better year this year than last,” said Tubert, who finished 50th on the money list as a rookie. “I feel like I have been playing better than my finishes so to have a good start in the state where I went to college and with a lot on the line is great. I’d love to finish strong the last few events and go straight to Stage III of Q-School.”

“I just felt very relaxed and comfortable today, like the old me coming out of high school and into my freshman year of college,” continued Tubert. “I know I’m capable so I’m happy, but there is a lot of golf left this week.”

Tubert, who finished T37 at Mystic Creek last year, loves being around so many Arkansas fans.

“On the first tee on Thursday for the pro-am, the starter started singing the Arkansas fight song so I sang along to the entire fight song,” said Tubert. “Nobody has called the hogs since I’ve been out here, but I’ve gotten quite a bit of ‘go hogs’ and ‘woo pig’ and all that good stuff.”

KATHLEEN EKEY STARTS WITH A 69: Kathleen Ekey (Sharon Township, Ohio) made birdie on the 18th hole to post a 69 to stand in a tie for second. Ekey made five birdies on the day including three in her first five holes.

“I started out really strong with a birdie on the first with a shot into four feet,” said Ekey. “I just kept hitting really good iron shots the next few holes. When you can do that on a golf course like this that is really
challenging, it makes you that much more comfortable.”

Ekey had to chip onto the 18th green from below the hole and was able to birdie to close.

“It was an awkward little flop shot, but I’ve been working on those a lot and I hit a great shot,” said Ekey. “I had about five or six feet and I hit a good putt.”

Ekey, who has two career wins and ten top 10 finishes, is hoping to finish the season strong heading into either Stage II of III of LPGA Qualifying Tournament.

“I feel like I’ve been working in the right direction for a long time and the scores are starting to show so I want to keep working on the same things,” said Ekey. “It’s the end of the season and I may have to go to Stage II, but I think if I get my rest and am smart about my practice I’ll be fine. I get in a good rhythm when I play a lot of tournament golf.”

Ekey, who has played in 56 career LPGA events, knows an LPGA-level golf course when she sees one and is impressed with Mystic Creek.

“It (Mystic Creek) is definitely one of the best we play out here (Symetra Tour), if not the best,” said Ekey. “It is great preparation for the LPGA to play a golf course like this that demands that you hit good shots all the time.”

#1 SAGSTROM IS T2 AND HIT ONE LEFT-HANDED TODAY: The top player on Tour, Madelene Sagstrom, made her sixth birdie of the day on her final hole to post a 3-under, 69.

“I hit a lot of good 9-irons, I feel like I hit a 9-iron on every hole,” said Sagstrom. “I stuck some really close and had some easy birdie putts. The one area I wasn’t great was off the tee. I actually had to hit one left handed today. I really put a score down today and played some good golf.”

Sagstrom had to hit a shot left handed on hole 15. It’s the first time she has had to do that this year.

“The ball was right next to a big tree and there was a pine cone in between my ball and the tree,” explained Sagstrom. “My brother is left handed so I actually don’t mind left handed shots and I lipped out for par. I had to flip my right handed club, which is way harder than hitting a left handed club on the range.”

Sagstrom will go for her third victory of the season this weekend.

STEEN FEELS MYSTIC CREEK SUITS HER: Marissa Steen (West Chester, Ohio) carded a 2-under, 70 on Friday and said that minimizing mistakes will be the key this weekend to get her fourth career win.

“Since the course is so demanding, minimizing mistakes will be key,” said Steen. “Being smart and aware of where to miss is important. For me, it is also about self-belief and self-trust. I’m at a point now where I just have to let my athleticism take over.”

Steen won three times in 2014 and was the Tour Player of the Year. She currently ranks sixth on the money list with eight top 10 finishes this year.

“I had a really good off week last week with my coach and just feel good,” said Steen. “I missed the cut in Kansas City and that was the low point this year, but since then I’ve been climbing and I’ve had some good weeks.”

Steen has three top ten finishes since late July and has placed inside the top 30 in each of the last four events.

• Haley Davis posted a 1-under, 71 and is T7, which is a big rebound for her. In her last five events, she has three missed cuts and two withdrawals due to rounds of 88 or higher.
• #14 on the money list Augusta James made three birdies and two bogeys and is 1-under, 71 through 18.


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Written By: Symetra Tour Communications


Photo Credit: 2016 Wesley Hitt