Stephanie Meadow is the leading Irish player at the Donal Ross Classic, the latest stop on the Symetra Tour.
Meadow is in a nine-way tie for 11th place on two under par, sitting just three strokes off the lead of 5-under par which is held by Haley Mills (Tyler, Texas), Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany), Muni He (Chengdu, China) and Sarah Schmelzel (Phoenix, Arizona).
Meadow was quick out of the blocks with four birdies in her first eleven holes but bogeys on 13 and 15 pulled her back into the pack. She’s still well placed though and sure to give it her best today.
Leona Maguire and sister Lisa Maguire continue their professional careers after a few days at home in Cavan with family with Leona sitting on +2 in T71 after a 2 birdie, four bogey haul, while Lisa returned an eight over par round to be well down the leaderboard unfortunately.
One of the overnight leaders Muni He (China) who is the most recent winner on the Symetra Tour said, “I felt a little more confident within my own game and myself. I was still a bit nervous coming into the event because I didn’t know if anything was going to change after the off week and if my game was going to still feel in control to me. After today, I like the consistency that I’ve been keeping up with.”
Another exemplary performance was turned in by Gabsa, with nothing but pars and birdies to show from today’s round. With her dad Guenther on the bag, Gabsa made things look easy, but she said the track is the most challenging on the Symetra Tour schedule to date.
“It’s a tough course with tough greens, and I’m not the best lag putter,” said Gabsa, the current No. 4 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “It doesn’t fit me perfectly. The greens, you have to hit it on the right spot and then you still have a tough putt, hopefully be smart about it.”
Meanwhile, Mills started on No. 10 and came out guns blazing. She carded six birdies on the back nine to go out in 6-under par 29, taking sole possession of the lead for some time.
Then the birdie train came to a screeching halt on the par-5 5th hole. Trouble off the tee led to a triple bogey, but Mills responded with a pair of birdies down the stretch to shoot her best round of the year and stay in the hunt.
“It actually makes me feel better because I can shoot 66 with a triple,” said Mills, who only needed 25 putts today. “I felt pretty calm out there, making a bunch of putts which is nice because I haven’t been putting well. Feel good going into tomorrow.”
Finally, like Mills, Schmelzel also found the secret formula for her season-best round. The University of South Carolina alumna used seven birdies and two bogeys to position herself for a weekend run.
“Kind of got off to a bumpy start, just a little timid around the greens and not really seeing things very well,” Schmelzel said. “Especially the [practice] putting green not being as undulated as the greens out here, you get your first downhill putt and you’re a little nervous about how fast it actually is. It’s just feeling it out, make sure you get comfortable because there is so much slope. The speed and line are so important. I stayed patient, had a lot of putts inside 10 feet finally drop today that hadn’t been dropping the past couple weeks.”
After 18 holes, a total of 70 players sit at 1-over par or better.