Stephanie Meadow was delighted to take some of the pressure off her shoulders after a strong start in her opening round at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in Somis, California.
The Jordanstown woman drained five birdies and just one bogey in an opening four-under 68 at The Saticoy Club to sit four shots off early leader Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Meadow, who should have enough credit in the bank to retain her playing rights for next season, is battling to make the CME Globe Tour Championship, with only the top-60 on the Order of Merit.
The 30-year-old is currently ranked 79th in the standings but after a round in which she needed just 28 putts, she is projected to jump up to 71st.
“I think getting off to good start always helps. Takes pressure off, and you also want to keep trucking along and do your thing,” said Meadow.
“I just kind of got it going a little bit on the back. The front was pretty solid and then it was nice to kind of hit some good shots and have some close birdie opportunities and make some putts.
“Overall pretty happy. Solid ball striking day, and I’m definitely enjoying the golf course. You have to think a little bit. There are a few tricky holes but, overall, it’s gettable.”
Meadow had begun her round with a birdie at the par-four second, only to give the shot back one hole later, but she turned in one-under after birdieing the par-five sixth before completing her scoring with three birdies in four holes at the 12th, 14th and 15th.
That leaves her in a share of seventh, four shots back of England’s Ewart Shadoff, who carded an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey in an eight-under 64 to hold a two-shot lead over America’s Alison Lee and China’s Ruixin Liu.
The chasing pair both signed for six-under 66s in Somis to share second, with Atthaya Thitikul, Danielle Kang and Paula Reto all a shot further back after a trio of 67s.