Olivia Mehaffey made a confident two-under par start to Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at Mission Hills.
The Ladies European Tour regular posted four birdies and two dropped shots in an opening effort that leaves the Tandragee star in a share of 59th place.
For the first three rounds, competitors will play one round each on the Dinah Shore, Arnold Palmer and Shadow Ridge courses before a 54-hole cut to the final round which will be played on the Dinah Shore Course. Players who complete 54 holes without a score of 88 or higher will earn 2023 Epson Tour status while the top 100 and ties will advance through to Stage II in October.
Anais Meyssonnier came out firing during the first day of Stage I, signing for a nine-under par 63 which was the tournament’s low round, as well as a personal best.
The Ladies European Tour member went bogey-free on the day, carding seven birdies and a lone eagle. Five of the seven birdies happened consecutively, from No. 6 to No. 11. The lone eagle came early in her round, on No. 2.
“I’m really happy,” said Meyssonnier. “It was my best score in tournaments, and I just did my best score two months ago with a minus-7 in Germany. I’m very very happy to play minus-9 here.”
Meyssonnier heads into the next three rounds with little expectation. Rather than put pressure on herself to finish with a certain score or in a certain place on the leaderboard, she wants to take it day by day and play her best golf.
“Honestly, I’m just playing my best,” said Meyssonnier. “I don’t want to say ‘I want to finish in this place or this place.’ I’ll play my best, step by step.”
Jenny Bae, one of the 82 amateurs in this week’s field, shot the second lowest round of the day at 6-under. She also carded a lone eagle, as well as five birdies.
“No. 6 was a really good hole for me,” said Bae. “I didn’t realize that it was that close to the pin, since I was aiming for the middle of the top of the green. The eagle really boosted my confidence for the rest of the round.”
Bae said she’s happy with Thursday’s round and didn’t even count her score until the end. Instead of focusing on the numbers she was writing on her scorecard, she focused on each shot she was hitting.
Top scores from Epson Tour members came from Marissa Kirkwood, Maggie Ashmore, Bobbi Stricker and Ho-Yu An. Kirkwood signed for 5-under, while Ashmore, Stricker and An shot 4-under.
“It felt like a great start, and I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going,” said Kirkwood. “It was nice to see the accumulation of my hard work and dedication this year begin to pay off.”
A total of 101 players shot even-par or better. Round two play will begin Friday at 7:30 am PT.
- Full scoring HERE