Arkansas senior Lopez starts strong at Q-School

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Gaby Lopez at 2015 LPGA Q-School. (Photo: Scott A. Miller)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Amateur Gaby Lopez made a strong start Wednesday at LPGA Q-School.

With a 4-under-par 68 on LPGA International’s Jones Course, the University of Arkansas senior moved into early contention for a tour card and medalist honors. She’s three shots behind American Christine Song and China’s Simin Feng.

Lopez signed up for Q-School in a bid to help her qualify to represent Mexico in the Olympics next summer in Rio de Janeiro. If she earns LPGA membership, she said she will likely turn pro. If she earns Symetra Tour status, she’s uncertain whether she will turn pro or return to Arkansas.

The 90-hole event ends Sunday with the top 20 players earning full LPGA membership and with players finishing from 21st to 45th and ties earning conditional membership. All players completing 72 holes are assured of earning Symetra Tour status.

“This is a marathon not a sprint,” Lopez said of her fast start. “There is a lot of golf ahead and staying in the moment and staying patient is going to be the key for this week.”

South Korea’s Juli Yang, who won conditional status at Q-School last year after losing out for full status in a playoff, is one shot back. American Cydney Clanton is two back.

Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., opened with a 69 just a week after turning pro. She made a good start despite the frustration of missing a 1-inch putt at her sixth hole of the day.

“It was a 1-inch putt, and I hit it about a half inch,” Khang said. “I didn’t know how to react. At first I was mad at myself, and then I just laughed. I birdied the next hole, so I knew I could calm down and everything would be fine.”

Khang turned 18 in October. She was low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open this summer.

Cheyenne Woods opened with a 71 and is tied for 35th.