Minnesota Golf Association

LPGA Tour Veteran Icher Tops the Field at Rush Creek to Qualify for 15th U.S. Women's Open

May 7, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – Posting back-to-back rounds of 2-under par 70 Tuesday at Rush Creek Golf Club, LPGA Tour professional Karine Icher earned medalist honors by five strokes and the lone qualifying spot to the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.
Icher, a 16-year veteran of the LPGA and five-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, qualifies for her 15th U.S. Women’s Open, which will be played at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., beginning May 29.  
“My irons were good—I had good contact and a good driver, too. I wish I could’ve putted better, but it was tough. I had many opportunities, but they were almost always downhill. You can’t really do anything—you barely touch the ball and hope to get a good line, but you can’t be aggressive,” Icher said Tuesday.
“I was unsure where to play because I didn’t know the course. We were unable to play yesterday or walk the course and we just had the yardage book, so we said the first round is going to be pretty much a practice round. Play safe, be smart, hit the fairway and green and then be ready for the afternoon.”
Icher carded three birdies and a bogey during her front nine early Tuesday before playing her final 10 holes at even par to finish the opening round of play tied for the lead with Spaniard Luna Sobron Golmes at 2-under 70.
Carding a birdie on the opening hole of the second round Tuesday, Icher moved to 3-under for the tournament and would card 12 consecutives pars before rolling in a pair of birdies at the 13th and 16th holes. A bogey at the 17th put Icher at 4-under for the day as she would walk away with a five-stroke victory over Reagan Zibilski and Sobron Golmes, who finished in a tie for second.
Icher, a 40-year-old native of France, gave birth last November and is looking to build on a strong performance last week at the LPGA Mediheal Championship, where she made the first cut of the season in her third event, finishing tied for 61st at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.
“Coming back from maternity—I played well last week. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve struggled with my putting. My game was good and I knew when we came here the greens were going to be slower than [last week in San Francisco], but no, they were about the same.”
Icher is coming off a 2018 season where she appeared in 16 events, making 10 cuts and amassing more than $74,000 in winnings. Since turning professional in 2001 Icher appeared in four Solheim Cups (with a record of 7-5-2) and has notched 45 top-10 finishes, putting her over $5 million in career earnings.
Despite playing in six straight U.S. Women’s Opens and 14 overall dating back to 2001, Icher’s status for this year’s championship came into question due to complicated maternity policies on the LPGA Tour.
Last week the USGA gave American Stacy Lewis a special exemption into this year’s championship, and when Icher didn’t receive the same treatment when her second daughter was born a week after Lewis’, Icher’s frustration became evident.
“It gave me a little more fight and a little more energy to go for it,” Icher said. “My expectation was to win. I knew it was only one spot, and with one spot you give it all you have.”
Receiving word from the USGA that she wouldn’t be receiving a maternity exemption, Icher was left scrambling to find a qualifying location prior to the deadline.
“There weren’t many sites available, it was either this one or in Houston tomorrow. I thought Houston would be warm and thought the course would be open and flat greens,” she said. “I knew Minnesota would be cold and probably tougher, and I prefer the tough conditions.
“My game is good and I’m very happy with it. Now I just try to find the putter and sink more putts. I want to do the best I can and play well and see what the future brings me.”
Icher’s best finish at the U.S. Women’s Open came in 2005 when she placed tied for 6th at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The following year Icher finished tied for 10th at the Women’s British Open. More recently, Icher placed 10th at the ANA Inspiration Championship in 2017.
Because Icher played in the 2017 Solheim Cup, she will receive an exemption to play in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine June 18-23.
Zibilski, from Springfield, Mo., and Sobron Golmes finished as first and second alternates, respectively.

For complete tournament results go to:  www.mngolf.org/Tournament/U.S._Womens_Open_Sectional_Qualifying_3


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