VENICE, Fla. – University of Arkansas senior Gabriela Lopez (Mexico City, Mexico) had the shot of the day Friday as her 8-iron from 148 found the bottom of the cup for a hole-in-one on the second hole on the Panther Course at Stage II of the LPGA’s Qualifying School in Venice, Florida.
“I hit a perfect 8-iorn to 145 and it landed three paces and went straight in,” Lopez said. “It was going towards the pin and then it disappeared all of a sudden. It was really exciting when I finally saw all of my hard work paying off.”
The ace was the fifth hole in one in Lopez’s career and second in competition. While Lopez was proud of her hole-in-one, she was just as proud posting a 1-under round of 71 which moved her up into a tie for 23rd place after two rounds.
“That proved a lot,” Lopez admitted. “It showed that I could control my emotions after that ace because today was windy and it was tough conditions especially on the Panther Course so I’m really proud of myself for believing in my ball striking and how low I could go.”
Lopez is used to competing against top flight completion in tough conditions as she has played in eight LPGA events during her young career.
“I’m really thankful to University of Arkansas and all of the sponsors at the LPGA event in Arkansas because playing that event three years in a row I’ve seen myself mature and improve every time,” Lopez said. “The first time I missed the cut. The second time I made the cut and the third time I came up with a top-30. It’s really exciting to have those opportunities as an amateur and to also play in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last year and this year and U.S. Open’s all of these opportunities motivate me to work harder towards my dream of competing out there on the LPGA.”
While she’s still an amateur and has a season left for the Razorbacks, Lopez has a chance to reach her dream of competing on the LPGA with a solid showing this week and then again at Stage III in Daytona Beach.
“I haven’t made a decision right now because there are things that I can’t control but I’m here to play my best and I’m here to try and finish in the top-20 hopefully in the next stage,” Lopez said. “Whatever happens is going to be fine. Either decision is good – turning pro or trying to win a National Championship with my team. I’m just trying to stay in what matters the most and that’s the present moment.”
Former Razorback Emily Tubert is also attempting to advance to the final stage and earn her full-time Tour card. The Burbank, California native and Symetra Tour player, opened with rounds of 75-78=158 and is tied for 74th overall with two rounds remaining.
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