GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Courtney Harter eyed a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole while nearby workers built a fence around the second tee Monday afternoon.
All that was at stake for Harter was a berth in the $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic. Harter has never played in an LPGA event.
Neither the pressure nor the surroundings rattled her as she calmly sank the putt to grab one of two berths in the Classic available in Monday's qualifying round on the Bay Course at Seaview Resort.
"I just want to have fun," Harter said. "It's my first LPGA event. I don't have any expectations. I just want to have fun and learn."
Harter and Katy Harris each shot a 1-under-par 70 during the qualifying round. Harter won the playoff on the first hole with her birdie putt. Samantha Richdale shot a 5-under-par 66 to grab the other qualifying spot. Harter, 23, graduated from the University of Alabama in 2011 and turned professional shortly afterward.
"This means a lot," said Harter, who grew up in Clearwater, Fla. "I've been working really hard and this means that work is paying off. It's nice to see some results."
Monday qualifiers are held for non-exempt LPGA players. Golfers gain exempt status, which grants them automatic spots in LPGA events, based on past performances.
Fifteen players competed Monday for two spots in the 54-hole Classic, which starts Friday.
Monday qualifiers can be difficult events to play in. The qualifier is almost an afterthought to all the activity going on around it as the course is prepared for the pro-am on Wednesday and Thursday and the actual tournament.
And unlike the 54-hole tournament, one bad hole during the qualifying round could doom a golfer's chances of having a productive week.
"It's just one round and you can't make big mistakes," Harter said. "You have to keep a good mindset, stay patient and not get frustrated."
The par-4 first hole served as the playoff hole. Harter outdrove Harris by 40 yards. Harris' approach shot landed on the fringe on the back of the green.
Harter didn't pay attention to where Harris' ball landed.
"I didn't watch her shot," she said. "I was just focusing on my own shot."
Harter's approach landed below the flagstick, rolled and stopped pin-high 10 feet from the cup. Harris hit her birdie putt a foot past the hole. Harter didn't spend much time over her putt.
"I just wanted to put good speed on it and give myself a good shot at it," she said.
Harter sank the putt.
"I felt relief," she said. "I was happy I'm getting this opportunity."
For Richdale, the Classic will be her third LPGA event of the year. She missed the cut at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in Alabama and the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii, both last month. Richdale is in her third year on the tour and she finished tied for 35th at the 2010 Classic.
Richdale, 28, seems pumped for this week's Classic. She posted on Twitter on Monday afternoon about qualifying for the tournament with the hash tag #Iloveatlanticcity.
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