Meadow makes early move with superb 68 at Kia Classic

John Craven
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Meadow makes early move with superb 68 at Kia Classic

Stephanie Meadow with fiance Kyle in Carlsbad, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Stephanie Meadow fired a four-under par round of 68 to sit just two shots off the lead in a tie for third after day one of the LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic.

The Jordanstown professional, who is no stranger to a fast start at Aviara Golf Club having opened with a five-under 67 in 2019, carded five birdies and just a single bogey in a round that saw her find 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

“Hopefully I don’t finish like did in ’19,” Meadow joked having carded a pair of 74s over the weekend two years ago before tying 55th.

“I like this golf course. I feel like if you hit good golf shots you’ll be rewarded, and if you don’t hit it in the fairway, it’s really penalising here, so that kind of plays into the strength of my game.”

Another thing that played into Meadow’s wheelhouse was the wind on day one, a testing breeze that saw only 28 players break par.

“Yeah, it definitely picked up on the back,” Meadow said. “I birdied 1, which is always nice, but kind of bounced back with a bogey on 2. But then I had three in a row on 6, 7, and 8. Was able to get to 8 in two today which was a nice two-putt birdie. And, yeah, just kind of really solid on the back. Gave myself some opportunities. The wind definitely is a big factor here.”

Another positive factor for Meadow is the ever-present Kyle, her fiancé but also now her caddie who’s proving a real asset on her bag as she continues to blossom on the LPGA Tour.

“It’s been really nice,” she says of the partnership. “It’s been a great change, and I really just enjoy — like I can be so open and tell him exactly how I’m feeling and he kind of like knows what to say and what not to say for the most part. So far it’s been a great team and I’m just enjoying having someone really have my back. Obviously normal caddies do, too, but he’s got a little more skin in the game I guess.”

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire didn’t manage to break par but she came pretty close, the grinding Cavan pro bouncing back from two outward half bogeys with two birdies in an even par 72. That’s good enough to be just inside the top-30 with Maguire finding 16 of 18 greens in regulation but needing 34 putts on a solid opening effort in Carlsbad.

The same couldn’t be said for Michelle Wie West who was given a tough reintroduction to the game after nearly two years away on maternity leave. The American sits one shot off the foot of the board after a nine-over 81.

While South Korea leads the way atop the board with the ever-impressive Inbee Park hitting route 66 to the clubhouse, one clear of compatriot Hyo Joo Kim in second place at five-under.

Full scoring HERE

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