Solid openers for Meadow and Maguire at Chevron Championship

Mark McGowan

Stephanie Meadow (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Stephanie Meadow is nicely placed inside the top-20 after an opening one-under 71 on day one of the Chevron Championship – the first women’s major of 2024 – at Houston’s Carlton Woods, with Leona Maguire just one shot further back on level par.

How tough the course was going to play was one of the main talking points in the days leading up to the start of play, and those promises were delivered upon with just 15 players under par as round one draws to a close.

Meadow, playing in the lead-out group off the first tee, came flying from the traps to birdie two of her opening seven holes and make the turn at -2, but bogeys on 11 and 16 dropped her back to level-par approaching the final two holes of the day. With a par-5 to come on 18, hopes were high that she’d get back into red figures, and she did so, but achieved it by way of a birdie-two on 17 and signed off with a par on 18 to sign for a satisfactory 71.

“The score didn’t look up and down,” she said afterwards, “but I played really solid on the front and then had a few kind of iffy shots on the back but made a nice birdie on 17 there to kind of gather it all back together and you know the wind’s starting to pick up a little bit so you just have to be a little bit particular about your targets.”

Meadow had spoken earlier in the week about the importance of approach play with the greens playing firm, and it was that aspect that she was most pleased with on day one.

“I just hit a lot of a lot of great iron shots,” she said. “I missed a lot like this far [six inches] off the green so my greens-in-reg don’t really show how I really felt it was, but that’s kind of the thing here you know; if you can be putting it’s a lot lot easier.”

But Carlton Woods is providing an overall test worthy of a major championship, meaning that all aspects of the game are going to be vitally important.

“You’ve got to drive the ball well,” Meadow explained. “You know, you can be conservative but then you have long irons in to tucked pins, so I kind of took more of a gamble and just, you know, I trusted that I was gonna hit my driver well. And the same sort of thing with the greens. If you’re missing in the wrong spot, it’s tricky so, you know, but first off you’ve got to be in the fairway.”

Maguire was also among the early starters, and after three opening pars, disaster struck on the par-5 4th where she carded a double bogey-seven. With her back to the wall, she regrouped to cover the remaining five holes on the front side in level-par, but things began to look up when she rolled in a birdie putt on the 10th, and then reeled off back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 to draw alongside Meadow on the leaderboard.

But she’d give a shot back on 15 after finding the water with her approach, making an excellent up-and-down to save bogey, and then parred her way home to get in at level-par, six shots off the lead but well in touch.

The early pace was set by American Lauren Coughlin, who was in the first group to start on hole number 10 and went bogey-free, carding six birdies to lead by two over fellow American Marina Alex, Japan’s Minami Katsu and ominously, world number one Nelly Korda.

Korda’s drive for five – a record-equalling fifth successive LPGA victory and second major championship – was a bit of a slow burner. Despite making a bogey on 10 – he first hole of the day – she regrouped and birdied four of her closing six holes to storm up the leaderboard and push her way into the three-way tie for second, and she’ll have the benefit of softer greens on day two whereas Coughlin, Meadow and Maguire will all go out in the early afternoon.


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