COURTESY OF PGA OF AMERICA
Stephanie Kono failed to qualify for this week's SBS Open at the Turtle Bay Resort's Palmer Course after she shot a 1-over 73 on Monday.
Kono finds Monday a time to learn
The Punahou School teen got a valuable lesson on what it takes to compete on the LPGA Tour
It is the back nine of the Monday morning qualifier for the SBS Open. The final threesome of Stacy Snider, Susie Parry and Stephanie Kono has just made the turn for home and is in need of some real assistance to be among the lucky two to break on through to a tee time tomorrow.
The players probably know this as they head out for the far reaches of the Arnold Palmer-designed course in search of their own big break at this week's first full-field event on the LPGA Tour. They are a cross-section of what qualifying is all about.
When: Feb. 16-18
Where: Palmer Course, Turtle Bay Resort
Time: 7 a.m.
Defending champion: Jennifer Rosales
Parry is 21 years removed from her rookie campaign. Back then, folks called her Susie Pager, then Susie Redman for 14 successful seasons, including 2000 when she finished third on the money list with $237,027. She got married to a doctor in 2001, changed her name to Susie Parry and has spent a lot of the last five years trying to reclaim her golf game.
Monday wasn't the day.
Snider is in only her second season as a professional golfer. Like Parry, she is a nonexempt member who plays Mondays in hopes of securing a reservation for the weekend. Snider has competed in only 11 LPGA Tour events, surviving one cut.
Her career earnings of $3,909 were for finishing in a tie for 51st at last year's Jamie Farr Corning Classic. It left her No. 593 on the money list. Snider has a degree from Michigan State in family community services in case this golf gig doesn't work out.
Monday wasn't her day, either.
Kono is still working on her résumé. This is her second tour of LPGA duty at the Turtle Bay Resort. Last year, she spent as much time in the water as she did on dry land en route to a learning-experience 78. She was struggling a bit at the turn yesterday, but was able to locate a couple of birdies on the back side of this North Shore retreat as she outmaneuvered her more experienced playing partners.
Hardly anyone took notice.
For most of the closing holes, there were only three golfers, three caddies and three of Kono's family members who clapped enthusiastically for every good shot that this threesome produced.
They were the last group of the day, with Kono eventually hitting the last drive and sinking the last putt -- for birdie -- of the Monday morning qualifier that stretched to three in the afternoon. As Kono hit her approach to within 8 feet at the last, her parents walked over to a single score sheet tacked up to a green wall that listed the totals of the 33 competitors.
They weren't in any particular order, but two numbers were in the red -- a 69 by Kelli Kuehne and a 70 by Audra Burks; their tickets to ride. The Konos didn't need to look any further. They knew the best their daughter could manage was a 1-over 73. It was good enough for a tie for fifth and a trip to Honolulu, but it wasn't what Kono was looking for on this blustery afternoon.
Not that there was a lot of disappointment hanging in the air as she signed her scorecard. The Punahou School student wanted to be one of the girls rocking this weekend. It's why she knocked it around for a while with a pair of pros, besting both as Parry shot a 77 and Snider posted an 80.
"I wasn't as nervous as I was last year," said Kono, who shaved five shots off her previous Turtle Bay scorecard. "And I think I played a lot better this year and hopefully next year it will get even better."
In the meantime, Kono is going to stick with players her own age for at least another year. Ranked No. 9 by the American Junior Golf Association, Kono has at least four events she plans to play in the spring and summer, starting in April with the Heather Farr Classic.
It is at this level where she may learn how to fine-tune her game well enough to compete successfully with the pros. For as exciting as this opportunity was for Kono, it's also as valuable a lesson as any she will learn in school.
You don't want to grow up to be a Monday morning qualifier.
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|Stuart D. Houck
|Carol Ann Proctor
||Mill Creek, Wash.
||Makaha Valley C.C.
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