Oct. 3, 2009
By Zach Stipe
VENICE, Fla. -- Former Lady Vol All-American Nicole Smith advanced to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament on Friday after tying for 27th at the LPGA Sectional Qualifier at the Plantation Golf and Country Club.
Smith carded an 8-over 296 total (77-73-71-75) on the par-72, 6,488-yard Bobcat Course to finish among the top 30 players at the tournament to earn a spot at the LPGA "Q-School" tournament set for Dec. 2-6, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Smith, who is wrapping up her degree at Tennessee this semester, will be looking to become the fifth Lady Vol to earn her LPGA Tour card.
The Riverside, Calif., native completed her senior season in 2008-09 with an appearance at the NCAA Championships and her third All-SEC Second Team award. Returning from injury in the spring, Smith managed three top-20 placements and ended her career with the fourth-lowest career scoring average (74.96) in Lady Vol history.
Smith's career will go down as one of the most successful in Lady Vol history. She was recognized as an honorable mention All-America selection by both the NGCA and Golfweek in 2006-07, the season she snagged individual medalist honors at the Fall Preview tournament with a 5-under-par 211. Additionally, she was named to the NGCA Academic All-America team three times.
Stephanice Connelly carded rounds of 76-68-70-71 to finish at 3-under-par 285 to win the tournament by one stroke.
A total of 34 players advanced into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament at 8-over-par 296. The 72-hole sectional followed the LPGA's first sectional tournament held earlier in September in Palm Springs, Calif., at Mission Hills Country Club.
The top 30 players and ties at both sectional tournaments will compete at the final qualifying tournament. Making up the rest of the field in Daytona Beach will be current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their priority standing and eligible Duramed FUTURES Tour players, who automatically advanced based on their position on the 2009 season-ending money list.