Meadow makes encouraging start but play suspended at Founders

Adam McKendry

Stephanie Meadow (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Stephanie Meadow will return to Mountain Ridge Country Club in the early hours of the New Jersey morning looking to capitalise on an encouraging start to the Cognizant Founders Cup.

Due to early Thursday morning fog pushing tee times back 90 minutes, the Jordanstown woman was one-under thru 15 holes and in a tie for 39th when poor visibility saw the suspension of play in West Caldwell, leaving her seven shots off leader Jin Young Ko.

Meadow will hope to continue the momentum she had found just before the horn sounded, the 29-year-old birdieing two of her final three holes to get back under-par and moving the right way up the leaderboard before being taken off the course.

Prior to that the former World Invitational champion had picked up a birdie at the par-four third but dropped shots at the par-four fourth and par-five ninth, but her finish will have her feeling confident upon her return to the course this morning.

It is still early in the week but a good finish would be well-timed for Meadow, who is currently 101st in the Race to CME Globe standings needing to break back into the top-80 in order to retain her full playing rights on the LPGA Tour for next season with only two events remaining after this week.

It was also a solid day for fellow Northern Irishwoman Olivia Mehaffey, who only qualified for this week’s event through the Monday qualifier but opened with a solid if not spectacular level-par 71 in New Jersey.

The Tandragee ace, who started at the 10th, picked up shots at the 11th, 15th and 18th but saw strokes slip away at the 13th, 17th and first before she finished her round with eight straight pars to end the day where she began in a tie for 56th.

It was a struggle for Leona Maguire, however, as she recorded her worst round since May’s Pure Silk Championship after opening with a four-over 75 to sit outside the top-100 and facing a battle to make the cut at Mountain Ridge.

Five bogeys – all at par-fours – and one birdie contributed to a difficult first round for the Cavan star, who did complete her full round before the horn blew, and she will have to go very low in her second round in order to stick around for the weekend and avoid missing her first cut in five months.

At the top of the leaderboard, World No.2 Ko has already opened up a comfortable advantage as she combined nine birdies with just the one dropped shot in a nine-under 62 that has her three shots ahead of Germany’s Sandra Gal, who played alongside Mehaffey.

The Korean was tied for the lead after two rounds at last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic and was one shot away from forcing a play-off, eventually losing out to Celine Boutier, and the two-time Major champion has admitted that frustration drove her on in her opening round.

“I was a little sad on the Sunday last week. I had a lot of putts on the back nine, so I was thinking, yeah, but still my putter is really good, so don’t be negative,” said Ko.

“I just (felt) like I needed to refresh my mind, and for the golf as well, and I didn’t practice much before the tournament. I just had naps and watched Netflix. So I will just give myself positive thinking, and today I had a great round. The putting was not bad.”

Five birdies in a bogey-free 66 has Gal holding solo second behind Ko, with six players, including World No.1 Nelly Korda and Canada’s Brooke Henderson – who played alongside Maguire – in the clubhouse tied for third at four-under.

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