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Mini tour player Jean Reynolds, 39, qualifies for U.S. Women’s Open

Mini tour player Jean Reynolds, 39, qualifies for U.S. Women’s Open

Jean Reynolds turns 40 in September and recently qualified for her third U.S. Women’s Open. The last time Reynolds qualified for a Women’s Open was 2009 at Saucon Valley, back when she was the top player on what’s now the Epson Tour. The 5-foot-2 Reynolds garnered plenty of attention back then when she played her way into contention.

“I really didn’t know if this would happen again,” said Reynolds, who currently holds no tour status of any kind.

Reynolds never has been a cookie-cutter player. After a strong junior career, she was recruited to play golf at the University of Georgia but quit the team after she arrived in Athens, opting for a more conventional college lifestyle. She joined a sorority, studied abroad in Austria, and quit playing competitive golf.

And then, after she graduated with a degree in Child & Family Development in December of 2007, the well-rounded Reynolds was back inside the ropes, refreshed and ready to grind.

She won twice on the developmental tour in 2009 and ultimately tied for 17th at Saucon Valley. She’d never guess that it’d take 15 years to get back to a Women’s Open.

Jean Reynolds at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open.

Last week, Reynolds flew to Virginia for the Belle Haven Country Club qualifier in Alexandria. She birdied the last two holes of a 36-hole qualifier, draining a 25-foot putt on the 17th, to close with a 69 and co-medal with China’s Ruixin Liu at 5 under. Only two players from the qualifier advanced to the championship, held May 30-June 2 at Lancaster Country Club.

“There’s a lot of validation for me,” said Reynolds. “All the sacrifices, it was worth it. What I believed in myself and my game was true. I still can play, and I still can play with some of the tops. I’m not crazy!”

In the midst of Reynolds’ rookie season on the LPGA in 2010, a lean year for the tour, a shoulder injury popped up from seemingly out of nowhere after the British Open. She’d already played too many events, however, to qualify for a medical exemption.

In 2012, Reynolds underwent shoulder surgery and took 18 months to rehab. Because she didn’t play four years consecutively on the LPGA, she didn’t qualify for Class A status. Faced with the decision to use that degree and start at rock bottom with a real-world job, or start at rock bottom again in the pro ranks, Reynolds opted to stick with the job she loves.

It was back to the Epson Tour, where she continued the grind.

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