2013 LPGA Tour rookie Caroline Masson fired a career-low, 7-under 64 to take the first-round lead at the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas. Masson made seven birdies in her bogey-free round on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over 2012 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Carlota Ciganda.
This week marks the LPGA’s first trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in more than 20 years. And the reception was a warm one for Thursday’s first round with sunshine returning to the area as temperatures moved back into the low 70s following a short cold snap early in the week. But the traditional Texas wind was still on display Thursday, although it didn’t bother the first-round leader.
“For some reason I feel like I'm playing pretty good in the wind,” said Masson, who is a native of Gladbeck, Germany. “My win on the LET in South Africa was also in like really, really windy conditions. And yeah, I'm hitting it well, so I think the wind doesn't affect my ball too much, and that will definitely help me throughout the week.
“But it's just also important to just make some putts on these greens because without putting well, I think you have no chance to shoot a really good round here. So it's just all coming together really.”
There is a talented group of players sitting three shots back at 4-under-par, which includes current Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park. Thirty-year-old Mo Martin, who is in her second year on Tour, also opened up with a 67 as did 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson.
Two-time LPGA Tour winner Christina Kim has gone through some ups and downs in her career over the past few seasons, but she cruised to a 3-under 68 in Thursday’s first round. She sits in a tie for eighth with a few others including 16-year-old Taylor Coleman of San Antonio, Texas who qualified for this week’s event via Monday’s High School Shootout.
Stacy Lewis, a Texas native, struggled at the end of her round on Thursday. The No. 2 player in the Rolex Rankings bogeyed two of her final three holes to finish at 1-over-par. Lewis must finish fifth or higher to have any chance at regaining the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings this week. Of course that task becomes much tougher if Park continues to play like she did on Thursday, making five birdies and one bogey en route to shooting a 4-under 67. It’s also no surprise that Park, who is known as one of the best putters on Tour, was commenting on the speed of the greens as one aspect of the course at Las Colinas Country Club that she enjoys.
“It was quite different with the speed because it's such a difference from last week but I'm very glad that I'm playing the fast greens,” Park said “I love fast greens, rolling greens. Last week was a very big challenge for me with slow and grainy greens which I struggle, but I was able to play better last week. So this is tough to adjust, but I love the greens here.”
It was a good day for some of the local players as well. Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford looked right at home on Thursday, shooting a 2-under 69 to sit in a tie for 11th. Stanford and the 16-year-old Coleman are the only two Texans currently ranked in the top 20.
There will be a cut to the top 70 and ties following Friday’s second round. As part of the “Shootout” format, there will also be a second cut on Saturday which will reduce the field to the top 50 players and ties.
Topics: North Texas LPGA Shootout