Stephanie Meadow recovered from an opening hole bogey to fire a much-needed four-under par 68 on day one of the Walmart Championship in Arkansas.
The Jordanstown professional started from the back nine and made birdies at 12 and 17 to make the turn in minus-one.
With the field largely taking apart Pinnacle Country Club, it was important that the Northern Irishwoman flew home to keep pace and Meadow did exactly that; finding three more birdies on the way in to sit in a share of 22nd spot at minus-four heading into round two this afternoon.
It was a really solid performance from Meadow who averaged 279 yards off the tee, hit 15 greens in regulation and needed 30 putts. She’ll be hoping for more of the same today to attempt to close the gap on South Korea’s Inbee Park.
Park lit up the back nine at Pinnacle Country Club on Friday, going out in 29 with five consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 through 15 and birdieing No. 18. Park was on track to become the second female professional to break 60, joining Annika Sorenstam but fell short by three strokes, still making birdie on holes No. 1, 3 and 7 for a bogey-free first-round 62.
“I think pretty much after the front 9, that 59 was on the watch,” said Park, who is one stroke in the lead going into the second round. “But I tried to make as many birdies as possible on the front nine, but it’s playing tougher with a few tees moved back, and I had a couple of opportunities missed, but I think I still played really good out there today.”
Park admits that her putter hasn’t been obedient in recent years but yesterday’s round showed otherwise – she made just 12 putts on the back nine and 14 on the front.
“For a couple of years or so I have been missing a lot of short putts that really I wasn’t really getting used to that, and I don’t want to get used to that at all,” said Park who is currently ranked 39th on Tour in putts per round. “I was just trying to be patient and trying to wait for the day that’s to come. I know I have a good feel on the putter, and it just wasn’t going in the last couple of years or so. I was really waiting for this moment and hopefully I can keep this going.”
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