Three front-nine bogeys have left Stephanie Meadow well outside the provisional cutline at the LPGA’s Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater amidst morning rain in Oregon.
Meadow, who started the week 63rd on the Race to CME rankings, requires a top-60 finish to access the season-ending, big-money event, and she’s projected to fall to 66th unless she finds something special in round two as she currently lies three strokes outside the mark that’d see her through and, with soft conditions, -3 or -4 could well be needed.
Her round began in fine style with a birdie at her first – the tenth – but eight successive pars followed and she began the front nine with a bogey, adding two more at five and seven, before responding with a birdie at eight to get back to one-over for the day and a tie for 107th.
Perrine Delacour is the first round leader after the Frenchwoman shot a 9-under 63.
Winless on the LPGA Tour, Delacour opened with a birdie and ran off five straight on Nos. 3-7 in a front-nine 30. The 29-year-old added birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17 in the bogey-free round on the tree-lined layout.
“Well, the goal today was to be dry.” Delacour said. “We knew it was going to be wet, so my main goal was to try to get my club as dry as we can, which we did pretty good with my caddie.”
Gina Kim was second after a bogey-free 64, the 23-year-old former Duke player’s best score on the tour. Also winless, she has missed five cuts in a row.
“I’m really excited,” Kim said. “I think today was where I was able to see a lot of my hard work pay off. It’s been tough this whole season, and I kept grinding through it. I kept believing in myself that maybe, you know, one of these days I’m going to be able to catch a good round like this.”
Second-ranked Nelly Korda was at 65 with Linn Grant and Olivia Cowan.
“I just knew with the amount of rain we were getting throughout the day that I could just be a little bit more aggressive,” Korda said. “So, making sure that I was flying to the right numbers and taking dead aim at flags.”
Sidelined by lower-back pain in the spring, Korda is back in form with the Solheim Cup against Europe a few weeks away in Spain.
“I’m just really focusing on this week, and once I get to that week, I’ll focus on that week,” Korda said. “I’m just trying to take it one round at time, play some consistent golf and, hopefully, I can take that into Spain.”
Grant won the Dana Open in July in Ohio for her first LPGA Tour title.
“It’s soft out there, so if you kind of have your yardages in control there are going to be a lot of birdie opportunities,” Grant said. “I holed a few of them, and it was just a nice round.”
Defending champion Andrea Lee was at 66 with Megan Khang, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Sarah Kemp and and Pavarisa Yoktuan.
“The course is definitely playing a lot different compared to prior years,” Lee said. “It was so wet out there.”
Khang won her first LPGA Tour title Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Shaughnessy, another tree-lined gem designed by Columbia Edgewater architect A.V. Macan.
“I remember in like junior golf we had a guest speaker at one of our tournaments, Tom Watson, and I remember him telling us you can either go out there and say like, `Oh, it’s raining, this stinks.’ Or you can go out there and say, `Hey, it’s raining for everyone. Just deal with it and make the best of the conditions.’ That’s the mentality I kind of take on now.”
She chipped for eagle on No. 7.
“It was pretty cool,” she said. “It had been a kind of slow start.”
Lexi Thompson bogeyed the final two holes in a 72. She’s outside the top 150 in the Race to CME Globe and is not likely to keep her full LPGA card for next year at this rate. Thompson has made only two cuts this year.