Walla shines in LPGA Futures Tour appearance | AspenTimes.com

Walla shines in LPGA Futures Tour appearance

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GREENWICH, Conn. – Kristin Walla deemed her first LPGA Futures Tour appearance a “pretty unique experience.”

That might be a bit of an understatement.

The Aspen native first learned that she had secured one of the final spots in the season-ending Price Chopper Tour Championship the day after Labor Day; she left her home in Connecticut and headed for waterlogged Capital Hills at Albany Golf Course the following morning.

When Walla arrived in New York, she encountered a course that was still dealing with the affects of Hurricane Irene; one hole was under so much water that only the top half of the pin was visible. All of Wednesday’s practice rounds were canceled, and players could do little more than walk the course Thursday – a feat in itself.

“I got to one hole that was under so much water that the cart path was ankle-deep water – there was no way around it,” said Walla, who teaches at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Conn. “I had to take my shoes off just to cross. After that, I walked the whole course barefoot.

“Basically, I had my laser rangefinder, my yardage book, a putter and a few balls. I tried to absorb as much as I could. I guess I learned enough.”

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Walla birdied four holes on the front nine in Friday’s first round. She wound up carding 1-under 69s the first two days, then a 71 Sunday to tie for 12th overall.

The effort helped Walla secure a spot in the second stage of Q-School. The 24-year-old next will compete at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., on Sept. 27-30. The top 70 at Venice will advance to the third and final stage in November in Daytona Beach, where players will vie for 2012 Futures Tour exemptions – and possible LPGA Tour cards.

“I’m totally excited and I feel pretty confident going into [Stage II],” the University of Texas alum said. “I’d say I played pretty steady [in Albany].”

Walla hit eight fairways, 10 greens in regulation and amassed just 27 putts during an opening round in which she got up and down four out of six times. Saturday, she was 3-under on the par 4s but 1-over on both the par 3s and 5s.

While she hit 10 fairways and 11 greens in regulation Sunday, Walla was 2-over on the par 5s.

“You expect those par 5s to be scoring holes. Turn that [3-over for the week] on those holes into 3-under, and I win the tournament,” she said.

“I need to work on my fairway woods. A couple were close to reachable shots that ended up being recovery shots instead of being able to attack for that birdie. … I don’t think I can fault myself too much finishing in the top 15.”

Sydnee Michaels of Temecula, Calif., captured the top spot – and a 2012 LPGA Tour card – with her three-day total of 8-under 202. Jessi Gebhardt (-7) of Chandler, Ariz., was second and Mo Martin (-5) of Altadena, Calif., third.

Walla is looking forward to making her mark in Venice.

“This last week was definitely a confidence booster,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, firing at the flag and making putts. If I make it a putting contest, I know I’ll be fine.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com