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Kirby, Leblanc open strong at LPGA qualifying school

Jennifer Kirby

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

Jennifer Kirby Paris, Ont. and Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que. carded opening rounds of 71 on the first day of LPGA Final Qualifying on Wednesday in Florida.

Kirby, who turned pro earlier this year after a successful collegiate career at Alabama, and Leblanc, who is working her way back from injuries a year ago, both played the Jones Course at LPGA International and sit in a tie for 33rd at 1-under par.

They are currently nine strokes behind Jaye Marie Green, who broke the course record on the Jones Course with an opening round 62. However, the goal is to be in the top 70 before the cut is made on Saturday ahead of Sunday's final round.

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Only the top 20 will earn full-time status for the 2014 LPGA Tour season while players finishing 21st through 45th and ties will earn conditional status. Anyone making the cut will also secure playing priveleges on the Symetra Tour.

LPGA veteran Lorie Kane of Charlottetown, Ont., opened with a round of even par and sits in a tie for 48th. The four-time Tour winner with almost $7-million in career earnings is at q-school to try and improve her priority ranking which would get her into more tournaments next year.

Natalie Gleadall of Stratford, Ont., Ashley Sholer of Hamilton, Ont., Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont. and Stephanie Sherlock of Barrie, Ont. are currently on the cut line after opening with a 1-over 73.

Sara-Maude Juneau of Fossambault, Que., who earned her Tour card a year ago, is currently tied for 134th along wtih Erica Rivard of Tecumseh, Ont.

Nicole Vandermade of Brantford, Ont. struggled to an opening round 78 and sits tied for 143rd.

Among the notable players who struggled on day one was Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods. She opened with a 5-over 77 on the Jones Course which left her tied for 134th. Also Shasta Averyhardt, who became the first first African-American woman to qualify for the LPGA Tour through q-school back in 2010, was tied for 88th after shooting 74 on the Hills Course.

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