Rounds of 69 and 70 respectively see Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow nicely placed after the opening round at the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Michigan.
Maguire will have mixed emotions about returning to a course where she scythed through the field with a final round 65 to join Jennifer Kupcho and Nelly Korda in a three-way playoff, but the Cavan star disappointingly three-putted for par on the second playoff hole after hitting arguably the shot of the tournament, handing Kupcho victory in the process.
It was the second time in two starts that she’d take runner-up honours at the Meijer Classic having come up just short of Nelly Korda in 2021 despite shooting an incredible -23 for the four rounds.
Hoping to go one better this year and capture her second LPGA Tour win, a five on the par-5 10th – her first – and a bogey at the par-3 11th was far from an ideal start, but she’d respond with three birdies in succession on 12, 13 and 14 and make the turn at -2.
Eight pars on the front side and the addition of another birdie at five saw her post a three-under 69, which would see her end the day tied for 22nd and just three off the lead.
Out three groups ahead of her fellow countrywoman, Meadow’s only bogey of the day would come at the second – her 11th – but birdies on 12, four and eight would see her reach the clubhouse at -2 and end the day tied for 34th. It was a very welcome positive starting round for Meadow who’s missed the cut in four of her last five LPGA starts and with just one top-25 finish to her name this season.
Drawing on fond memories after her win last year, Kupcho looks set to be in the mix once again after an opening six-under 66 that sees her part of a five-way tie for the first round lead alongside Ayaka Furue, Frida Kinhult, Cheyenne Knight and Lindsey Weaver-Wright. Amy Yang, Ally Ewing and Alison Lee are one-stroke adrift on -5, with Ashleigh Buhai and Minjee Lee among the baker’s dozen tied for ninth at -4.
“I think it kind of sets up really well for my game,” Kupcho said after her round. “Five par-5s, I like par-5s at all golf courses, so certainly helps.
“I think I just feel really comfortable in general. Played pretty well here even aside from the wind.
“Today my par was 4-under actually for myself. Set low goals I guess and you achieve them, so, yeah, I just came out looking to keep playing well and that’s what I did.”