Queensland’s Sarah-Jane Smith carded an even par round of 72 in wet and soggy conditions at Locust Hill County club, to be the leading Australian after the opening round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
The first round of the Championship teed off a day late after heavy rain postponed play before it began on Thursday local time. A total of approximately 65 cm (2 ½ inches) of rain fell in the Pittsford, New York area over 24 hours on Thursday and there were questions as to whether play would be able to resume on time on Friday. Thanks to some tremendous work by the Locus Hill grounds crew staff, players teed off on time at 7:15 a.m. on Friday morning although there were still plenty of challenges with the rain having made the course play even longer than expected.
Smith, didn’t get off to the best start, with an opening bogey, however she settled quickly and parred the next six holes. She bogeyed the par 5 eighth before recording her first birdie of the day the par-3 ninth to go out in one-over-par 36. Smith posted another two birdies and a bogey to come home in one-under-par 36. The Queenslander is in a share of 16th position and only five shots adrift from the leader, South Korean, Chella Choi.
Choi carded six birdies in her first 10 holes and made just one bogey in her round and leads fellow compatriot Jiyai Shin and American Morgan Pressel, who both shot opening rounds of 4-under 68. Five-time LPGA Tour winner Brittany Lincicome is two shots back at three-under-par and in solo fourth place. American Jessica Korda and World Golf Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak are in a tie for fifth at two-under-par.
Early in the week the talk was all about the thick, heavy rough and the rain certainly didn’t make it any easier. Many of the players in the field cited the need to keep the ball in the fairway and it’s no surprise that the first-round leader did just that. Choi hit all 14 fairways on Friday and only missed three greens.
“I hit a really good driver today,” said Choi. “I hit 14 fairways. So I'm really happy. My goal is just keep fairway.”
Of the other Australians in the field, rookie Bre Elliott, who was first alternate, got a start with a player withdrawing and made the most of her opportunity. The Victorian posted a very credible three-over-par 75 to be tied for 49th position. For last week’s winner, Karrie Webb, it wasn’t the start she was looking for. Webb, along with Katherine Hull-Kirk are a further shot back and tied for 71st. Lindsey Wright is at five-over-par, 77 and is tied for 89th. One of the players at five-over with Wright is New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko.
While Sarah Kemp (80) and Julia Boland (83) have a lot of work to do to try and make the cut.
Defending champion Shanshan Feng signed for a 74 to be tied for 32nd position.
The second round will be played on Saturday local time, before the cut is made and the remaining 36 holes being played on Sunday.