It was moving day at the Donald Ross Classic on the Symetra Tour and Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow remains the leading Irish player in the field in a tie for 28th.
Stephanie Meadow / Image from Symetra Tour
Meadow, who started the day just outside the top ten, dropped back following her level par round of 71, which saw her lose ground on the field with the majority of the top 30 contenders going under par on day to at French Lick Resort in Indiana.
It was looking good early on for Meadow as she birdied the 2nd but bogeys on 11 and 12 put her on the back foot. She recovered well with birdies on 13 and 15 but gave another shot back on the closing hole to leave her in a six-way tie for 29th place.
Leona Maguire made the cut on the number after adding a one under par 70 to her opening 73 which sees her in T56 place. Unfortunately Lisa Maguire didn’t make the cut and endured a difficult time with rounds on 79 and 80.
Aside from the leaderboard there was plenty of action as a Symetra Tour record was set with four hole in ones recorded.. Kayla Sciupider (Etowah, N.C.), Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England) and Sadena Parks (Raleigh, N.C.) all struck gold from 168 yards. To complete the historic day, sponsor exemption Brittany Kelly (Indianapolis, Indiana) scored her third hole-in-one and second in competition on the par-3 6th hole. The PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Woodland Country Club used a 9-iron from 130 yards.
At the top of the leaderboard there was plenty of movement and when the dust settled it was Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii) with the solo advantage at 8-under par overall. The UCLA alumna carded a 5-under par 66 in the second round, finding six birdies and one bogey to jump from tied for eighth to first and heads out in the final group today.
“I kept myself out of trouble and I’ve had a lot of wedges in,” said Kono, who has a season-best finish of tied for 15th at the Forsyth Classic. “My wedge game has been really, really good this week. I think that’s where I got most of my chances.”
This won’t be the first time that Kono has been in the final pairing. Last year, she was tied for the lead at the Gateway Classic in Mesa, Ariz., at Longbow Golf Club. The result may have been different than what she was looking for, but it is one that has her hungry for this new opportunity.
“It was a really good experience for me,” Kono said. “I was a little bit nervous on the first tee and I found out what my misses are when I’m under pressure. I’m still learning every day. Hopefully tomorrow I can draw back on that experience.”
Kono will be joined at 1:20 p.m. ET today in the last group by Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany), a winner on the Symetra Tour already this season. The Forsyth Classic champion stayed steady today, turning in a 2-under par showing to enter the final round at 7-under par overall.
“Already knowing how it is to be in this spot, it does help a little,” said Gabsa. “It’s also still exciting to win and you will always be nervous about it, no matter what. By my game, if I get cautious I screw up, so I’m not allowed to get protective of my scores. I will try to go for it.”
Meanwhile, a group of three players are two shots back of Kono heading into the final day, including Karen Chung (Livingston, New Jersey), Clariss Guce (Artesia, California) and Mia Piccio (Bacolod City, Philippines). After firing a bogey-free, 5-under par, Chung will head out at 1:10 p.m. today in the penultimate pairing.
“I’m going to see how it goes, first have to survive the walk,” Chung said laughingly. “The par-5s are super short on the front nine, so those are attackable. This course is tough and my game had gone to sleep for a couple weeks, so it’s nice to be back up top.”