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Jutanugarn, Lee-Bentham share medalist honors at Q-School

4:46 PM, Dec 2, 2012   |    comments
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Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Moriya Jutanugarn and Rebecca Lee- Bentham finished tied atop the leaderboard on Sunday at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

Jutanugarn entered the fifth and final round ahead by six strokes before stumbling to a 74. Lee-Bentham took advantage with a 67 and both players ended at 13-under 347 -- one stroke ahead of Ayako Uehara, who shot 69.

The top 40 finishers (including ties) at this high-stakes event earned their LPGA Tour cards for 2013. The top 20 players received Priority in Category 12 (exempt status), while the 21st-45th finishers earned Priority in Category 17.

Kathleen Ekey, the 2011 Symetra Tour Player of the Year, carded a 65 and ended alone in fourth place at 10-under, world No. 19 Chie Arimura (70) and Lisa McCloskey (71) tied for fifth at 8-under and Felicity Johnson (70) took seventh at minus-7.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Laura Diaz (72) and Karlin Beck (70) tied for eighth place at 6-under and Stephanie Sherlock (74) placed 10th at 5-under, while amateur Marina Stuetz (71), Honda Award winner Brooke Pancake (70), 2011 NCAA individual champion Austin Ernst (70), Caroline Masson (71), Kayla Mortellaro (67) and Kim Welch (68) tied for 11th at minus-4.

Seven golfers -- Kelly Jacques, Irene Cho, Jiayun Li, Nicole Jeray, Taylore Karle, amateur Breanna Elliott and Lauren Doughtie -- tied for 17th, necessitating a playoff for the final four Category 12 spots.

Cho, Jeray, Karle and Doughtie earned their Category 12 positions in the playoff.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Christina Kim stumbled to a 74 on Sunday and ended at 1-over -- good for a 39th-place tied and Category 17 status.

Also finishing in the top 40 were Second Stage Qualifying medalist Katie Burnett as well as amateurs Marita Engzelius and Perrine Delacour.

After rotating the first four rounds on the Champions and Legends Courses at LPGA International, the final round was contested on the Champions Course.

The 18-year-old Jutanugarn had been cruising through the early stages of the tournament. She held a 6-stroke lead after both the third and fourth rounds, but failed to record a birdie on Sunday, while picking up a pair of bogeys.

Lee-Bentham, meanwhile, started the day seven strokes off the pace and methodically worked her way into contention.

Playing in the same group as Jutanugarn, the Canadian picked up a shot during her front nine, then tallied consecutive birdies starting at No. 12. That feat, coupled with a bogeys on Nos. 10 and 12 by Jutanugarn, had Lee-Bentham two shots back.

A birdie on the par-4 16th narrowed the gap to a single shot, and Lee- Bentham capped her improbable march to the top with another birdie on the last.

NOTES: Former U.S. Women's Open champion Birdie Kim failed to the cut on Saturday ... She carded rounds 76, 78, 72 and 69 and finished at plus-7, which was one above the cut line ... LET member and European Solheim Cup Team member Mel Reid also failed to qualify for the final round, ending at 9-over ... Australian Kristie Smith withdrew from the tournament.

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