Song clinches LPGA qualifier

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Song clinches LPGA qualifier

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida - Korea’s Song Aree won medalist honors Sunday at the LPGA’s final qualifying tournament, as 17-year-old runner-up Jessica Korda said she would turn pro.

Song, 24, finished the five-round tournament at six-under par 354 to earn full playing privileges on the LPGA tour next season.

“Any time you enter a competition and come out on top, you feel pretty good,” said Song, who lives in Orlando, Fla., and will be returning to the tour.

Song, who was runner-up at the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship, is trying to jump-start a career slowed by shoulder surgery in 2009. Like all of the players, she struggled Sunday with gusting winds, rain and chilly temperatures, posting a one-over par 73.

“I couldn’t hit it as close as I did in the last four days, but I still hit it well,” she said of her closing round.

Korda, the daughter of former Czech tennis star Petr Korda, closed with a 77 for 356. She played the tournament as an amateur but said after her round she would turn pro. LPGA age restrictions mean Korda will have to seek special permission from the organization’s commissioner to join the tour.

“It was a tough, tough day because it was really windy, and I lost my balance about 20 times,” said Korda, who lives in Bradenton, Florida. “But this is a dream come true.”

“I knew I always wanted to turn pro, but I never thought I’d do it this year,” Korda added. “I’ve had a really good year and I’m so glad to finish it out here, turning pro at LPGA Q-school.”

Korea’s Jeong Ji-min finished third with a 71 for 357. The five-round qualifier was cut to the low 70 players and ties on Saturday. A field of 120 players began this week’s event, hoping to either earn membership or improve their current member status for the 2011 LPGA Tour.

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