Rolex Rankings No. 90 Alison Walshe fired a career-low, 6-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Marathon Classic Presented by Owings Corning & O-I. Walshe’s previous-best round was a 66, which she shot on four separate occasions - most recently in the third round of the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
Walshe leads a group of three players by one shot which includes Americans Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson and Canada’s Jessica Shepley, who sit in a tie for second at 5-under-par. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park is two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth after an opening-round, 4-under 67.
The hot weather didn’t seem to affect scores on Thursday. Temperatures hit the mid-90s in the Toledo-area with the heat index reaching triple digits during the mid-part of the day. Caddies were given the option to not wear their caddie bibs due to the intense heat during the first round. Still, players like Walshe, who is based in the Jupiter, Fla. area, didn’t seem to be affected too much by the heat.
“I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year,” said Walshe. “I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts. So I think, like I said, the putting was key, and I think that's going to be key for me to really get the rounds going well.”
With her 65, Walshe also bested her lowest first-round score by two shots. She opened with a 67 twice before, most recently at the 2012 Safeway Classic. The Westford, Mass. native started her round on Thursday with a bogey on the par 4 10th but recovered quickly as she recorded five of her eight birdies in her first nine holes.
“Actually, coincidentally I 3‑putted the first hole and I was like, ‘Here we go again,’” said Walshe. “Then 1‑putted the next hole and got my confidence going. Made a lot of putts today, so that was pretty key.”
It is the first time that Walshe has held the first-round lead in an LPGA Tour event since joining the Tour in 2010.
Paula Creamer, who won the Toledo-based event in 2008, said she had a sense of confidence walking onto the course on Thursday. Creamer’s first-round 66 was her lowest opening round at Highland Meadows Golf Club since she shot a career-low 60 in the first round of the 2008 event which she won.
“It was good, obviously winning at a golf course is huge,” said Creamer. “Having my career‑low round here is also a positive. Definitely gives you a little bit more confidence in that sense.
“But I been starting to play well. Last week I hit the ball great; just couldn't really make any putts; couldn't see the greens. This week I have been hitting the ball really well and I can actually see these greens a little bit better. So hopefully make some more birdies tomorrow and then have a good weekend.”
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu opened up this year’s event with a 3-under 68 and sits three shots back of the leader, Walshe.
Topics: Marathon Classic