Green wins LPGA Q-School for second time

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jaye Marie Green will take some winning momentum in her return to the LPGA next season.

Olafia Kristinsdottir will take the pride of Iceland into her rookie year on tour, becoming the first player from her country to play the LPGA.

American Beth Allen and England’s Mel Reid will try to turn their Ladies European Tour success into something bigger.

And Japan’s Nasa Hataoka will look to become the next teen phenom to make her mark on the biggest stage in women’s golf.

There was more than the usual amount of joy and disappointment in Sunday’s finish to LPGA Q-School at LPGA International.

Green, Kristinsdottir, Allen, Reid and Hataoka were among 20 players who won full LPGA membership for 2017.

India’s Olympic darling Aditi Ashok was among 28 players earning partial status. So was UCLA senior Bronte Law, who will turn pro to claim her conditional membership after winning the Annika Award as the best collegian in the women’s game last season. Mariah Stackhouse, who led Stanford to the NCAA Championship in 2015, missed full status by a single shot.

Green claimed medalist honors in dramatic style, holing a 20-foot birdie at the 90th hole. With a 2-over-par 74 in heavy winds on the Hills Course, she finished at 13 under for the week, a shot better than Kristinsdottir (73).

“I definitely wanted to win,” Green said. “I think that was a good goal for me. I did not play well [Sunday], so to have a putt to win was great. I felt like a kid on the putting green, thinking about a putt to win. When I saw it going dead center, I was like ‘Oh my gosh’ I had to fist pump, which I never do.”

Green won medalist honors at LPGA Q-School in 2013 but needed a return to regain full status after slipping to 112th on the LPGA money list this year. She won more than Q-School again. She won back some lost confidence.

“I knew I had to play well to get my card,” said Green, who claimed a $5,000 first-place check. “Now I know that I can make a putt to win, so there are a lot of positives to take away. Now I know I can play well under the gun. Going into next year, I have this experience to draw on.”

Kristinsdottir enjoyed a strong following of Icelanders in her week at LPGA International. She played at Wake Forest and made her start on the LET as a rookie this year.

“I’m so happy and really happy to be Icelandic,” said Kristinsdottir. “There are so many people out here and this is so awesome, I can’t even describe it.”

Ashok, 18, missed gaining full LPGA status by two shots, tying for 24th, but she was pleased to know she’ll be able to mix LPGA starts with her LET schedule next year. Ashok grew up in Bangalore, India, a city of 8.4 million people. There were just three courses in the metropolitan area when she was growing up, but she made it to the Olympics this summer and then won back-to-back starts as an LET rookie this fall.

“Obviously, I want to play in as many majors as I can, hopefully all of them,” said Ashok. “I want to play in as many LPGA events as possible because I’ve done well on the LET, and I think I have potential to do well on the LPGA as well.”

Hataoka, 17, led Q-School going into the weekend and despite weekend stumbles to 75 and 78 held on to tie for 14th. She won the Japan Women’s Open last month, becoming the youngest player and first amateur to win a Japan LPGA Tour event. She turned pro a week after her victory. She will turn 18 on Jan. 13.

The Philippines’ Regan de Guzman (72) and USC senior Karen Chung (72) were the only amateurs to win full status. They both turned professional after their rounds to claim tour membership. De Guzman tied for 14th and Chung tied for 19th.

All 70 players who made the cut to Sunday earned at least Symetra Tour status.