Fresh off a jaw-dropping 10-under par round of 62 last week at the Clover Cup, Olivia Mehaffey returned to Mesa for her Symetra Tour debut to fire a three-under par round of 69 on day one of the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic.
No stranger to Longbow Golf Club during her now five years at Arizona State University, Mehaffey looked right at home in carding four birdies, including two at her closing two holes – 8 and 9 – with just one bogey coming at the fourth to be sitting four shots off the early pace set by France’s Celine Herbin, Mehaffey sharing ninth place at three-under.
World number 20 ranked amateur Mehaffey has undertaken a series of significant changes under new coach Jorge Parada in recent times but with those swing alterations beginning to bed in, the four-time All-American is looking right at home in pro company ahead of turning her attention to the paid ranks later this year.
For the first tournament of the 2021 Symetra Tour season, Herbin looked to be in mid-season form. The 38-year-old fired a seven-under par 65 on day one of the inaugural tournament, highlighted by six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 15th.
She leads the 132-player field at Longbow Golf Club after 18 holes, the first time she has held an outright first-round advantage at a LPGA-sanctioned tournament in her career.
“My eagle was a huge drive. We guessed 310-315 [yards], so a very good one and I had a little 6-iron to the flag,” said Herbin, who is making her first Symetra Tour start since the 2016 Guardian Retirement Championship. “I landed two feet [from the hole] and it was almost a tap-in eagle, always good to have those kind of eagles.”
In 2014, Herbin finished in a tie for 35th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to first earn both LPGA and Symetra Tour membership as a 2015 rookie. Competing this week at Longbow Golf Club, the same place she made her first start in an LPGA-family event, really brings her LPGA (and Symetra Tour) careers full circle while sparking memories of when she started her journey on the United States-based Tours.
“It’s funny because 2015 was my first year on Symetra Tour and this was my first event, so I was quite happy to come back” said Herbin, who tied for 40th in the 2015 Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. “I had a good feeling of this course. I like it and have been enjoying it. Today, my game was consistent and I was happy with my putting.”
As she sleeps on the lead, Herbin will strive to continue the solid play in her first competitive event since the 2020 Ladies European Tour season-finale Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open De Espana.
“I was quite looking forward to playing a tournament again after almost four months [off],” Herbin said. “I worked on my game during the winter and put in very good work, physically. Changed a few members of team with a new swing coach, new putting coach. All those things are going toward a good direction.”
- Full scoring HERE