A cold, long, tough slog was the general consensus amongst players as Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire were amongst many struggling to get to grips with Old American Golf Club on a testing opening day at the Volunteers of America Classic.
The tournament’s unique December slot in the schedule meant good scoring was hard to come by and although Meadow and Maguire would’ve been more used to the icy conditions than most, it didn’t make things any easier in Texas.
Out early, Jordanstown professional Meadow carded six bogeys and just two birdies in an opening 75 as she looks to back-up a podium finish last time out at the Pelican Women’s Championship. In the form of her LPGA Tour career of late, Meadow has fond memories of the VOA having retained her card with a birdie-birdie finish at last season’s renewal but this assignment is a different one for the now 28-year old who only hit six greens in regulation in a grinding performance. At four-over par, she sits just inside the top-60 with a number of players yet to complete their second rounds as darkness fell on Thursday.
Amongst those still to finish is Cavan professional Maguire who sits at two-over par with two holes to play of her opening round. Eleven straights pars on Thursday before her first bogey of the day at the 12th, Maguire dropped one more at the par-3 16th as conditions deteriorated and she sits in a share of 31st ahead of completing round two early on Friday.
Unsurprisingly it was someone from this part of the world who fared best in the wintry conditions with England’s Charley Hull shooting a three-under 68 to hold a one-stroke lead. With six birdies on her card, Hull managed to record her career-best VOA Classic 18-hole score.
“I was so cold out there,” said Hull. “I played pretty solid. The golf course is playing so much different than it did last year. It’s playing a lot longer, which I prefer. I struggled swinging the last two holes, I just got so cold. Along that lake you just get like freezing.”
With colder conditions, long hitters certainly had an advantage. For Hull, though she wasn’t as accurate as she wanted, she said her swing still felt great. Riding on the momentum after her first birdie of the day at her eighth hole (No. 17), Hull carries the 18-hole lead for the first time since the 2016 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, where she finished in a tie for eighth.
“I felt like I was hitting it really well up until [the eighth hole]. Actually, I didn’t hit a green, but I was always just like a club short or something or half a club short and I was still putting just off the green, but I felt like I was hitting it pretty well and then just made some birdies coming in,” said Hull. Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Jessica Korda and Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum are tied for second at -2.
Full scoring HERE