Stephanie Meadow sits just inside the projected cut-line after grinding out a three-over par 75 on a brutally tough opening day at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The Jordanstown professional found herself three-over after just five holes with Hazeltine showing its teeth as icy rain made the course play extremely long on day one.
Throughout her career, Meadow has proven herself a fighter and after nine pars settled the ship, a first birdie of the day arrived at the 6th, her 15th as the Northern Irishwoman briefly got back to plus-two.
The course wasn’t done biting, however and one more bogey followed at Meadow’s penultimate hole but at plus-three for the tournament, the LPGA Tour star will hope that an early start this afternoon pays dividends so she can make a move out of her current spot of tied 62nd on the leaderboard.
As for Maguire, who also started from the 10th tee, she was another player slapped in the face by some horrid conditions at Hazeltine. The Cavan star made the turn in 41 strokes and despite rallying on the way in, was unable to make a birdie as she eventually signed for a six-over par 78.
Now outside the top-100, Maguire will need to improve on her 7 of 18 greens hit in regulation if she’s to make a first professional appearance in the weekend of a Major championship, but given Leona’s track record, you wouldn’t bet against her.
Sitting on top after a rollicking opening round that was buffeted by wind and rain is Hannah Green, a 22-year-old second-year tour member from Australia who made every clutch putt she needed and holed out a bunker shot for birdie on her way to a four-under-par 68.
Just 23 putts saw green move one clear of Hyo Joo Kim, winner of the 2014 Evian Championship, and England’s Mel Reid, already a Major champion.
“That was difficult,” said Green. “I only brought one jacket and I was freezing cold. My caddy and I both really weren’t prepared for the rain. Luckily there was a staff member from the course coming out with towels, otherwise I don’t know if I would have been able to keep hold of the club.”
“The course played really long today,” said Kim, who has three LPGA wins and 10 on the Korea LPGA. “I just wanted to play even par and that’s kind of what was in my mind. Short game came together really well. I definitely think that tough courses kind of play to my game.”
Michelle Wie, who has known both summits and valleys, returned to competition for the first time in two months and tested her surgically repaired right wrist in Hazetine’s gnarly rough, which she found far too many times. She winced her way to a painful 84 and spoke emotionally after her round.
“It was kind of a little foolish to think that I would shoot really well, just hitting golf balls last week, at Hazeltine,” said Wie, whose wrist was operated on in October. She hasn’t competed since missing the cut in the LOTTE Championship in mid-April. Every aspect of her game was rusty as she missed fairways, missed greens and missed putts.
“I’m really, really happy that I played,” she said. “Just feeling a lot of joy just being out there, and, you know, competing again. It’s going to take time and I’ve just got to be patient and thankfully I have all afternoon to get warm again and take care of my wrist.”
When asked how she balances her passion to play with the prudence of taking time off to recover fully, Wie had to fight hard to control her emotions, tears overtaking her.
“Yeah, it’s hard,” she said. “It’s just one of those situations where I’m not, you know, I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me so even on the bad day I’m just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it’s tough.”
Irish second round tee times (Irish time)
2.13pm – Stephanie Meadow
8.11pm – Leona Maguire
Full Scoring HERE