Three Share Opening-Round Lead At LPGA T&CP National Championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Sept. 13, 2010 - On a rolling course with severely undulating speedy greens, even-par 72 proved to be a good score in today's opening round of the 23rd annual LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) National Championship.
Three players, 2008 champion Laura Shanahan-Rowe of Hampton, N.H., former LPGA Tour winner Charlotta Sorenstam of Orlando, Fla., and Tina Lindsey of Bloomington, Ill., all toured The Golf Club at Ballantyne at level par today. And today's first round was a fight for each of the pros, who now make their living assisting others with their games.
"The course was firm and fast, but it's a championship and I expected it to be tough," said Shanahan-Rowe, who works out of Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club in North Hampton, N.H. "It's all about adapting to what you're faced with and playing smart."
The New Englander recorded four birdies and four bogeys in her opening round and carded a birdie on the treacherous par-5 eighth hole in what she called an "absolute miracle," hitting a hybrid-3 club from 196 yards through the middle of the green and chipping up to six feet for her birdie.
The punitive No. 8 green was the same hole that wrecked a number of scorecards today, including that of defending champion Jean Bartholomew of Garden City, N.Y., who hit driver-7-iron to pin high in two shots on No. 8, and then four chips later, walked away with a 4-over 9 on the sloping and slippery hole en route to her opening-round of 81.
"I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone," said Bartholomew, an LPGA Tour veteran, who is now a teaching professional at The Creek Club in Locust Valley, N.Y. "I looked like an absolute hack. Tomorrow will be better. It has to be."
Playing in her first T&CP National Championship, Sorenstam admitted to being nervous early in today's round. The Swede bogeyed No. 2 when she pushed her approach shot, missed the green, and didn't get up and down for par. On the par-3 fourth hole, she blocked her 6-iron off the tee and chipped poorly for a double-bogey-5.
"That's where I told myself there were a lot of holes left and to not give up," said Sorenstam, who found herself three over after four holes.
And that's also where the former European Solheim Cup player started hitting her shots close. She had a pair of six-foot birdie chances on holes 6 and 7, saved par from six feet on No. 8, and then finally drained a six-foot birdie putt on No. 9. Sorenstam was able to shave a couple of shots off her scorecard when she eagled the par-5 12th hole, hitting driver and then her hybrid-3 club to 20 feet, which she drained.
But even with an eagle on her scorecard, Sorenstam knew she still had some work to do. She birdied the 14th, bogeyed holes 15 and 16, and then rolled in her last birdie on the No. 17 from six feet.
"I'm a little disappointed with myself and some of the putts I made today," said Sorenstam, who is the director of golf operations at the ANNIKA Academy in Orlando, Fla. "But after a rough start, I'm at least in the hunt."
Lindsey also joined the hunt for lead when she scored the low round of the afternoon with her even-par 72, carding three birdies and three bogeys.
"I was steady today, hit a lot of greens and rolled some good putts," said Lindsey, who is a pro at The Links at Ireland Grove Golf Academy in Bloomington, Ill. "To share the lead is a pleasant surprise, but there's still two more days to go."
Rounding out the top five in the championship division is: 4th place Karen Davies of Carefree, Ariz., at 1-over 73; and Teresa Zamboni of Port Orange, Fla., and Debbi Koyama of La Quinta, Calif., both tied for fifth at 2-over 74.
Four players share the lead in the senior division (age 50-over) at 3-over 75. Linda Nevatt of Churchville, Pa., Sally Austin of Chapel Hill, N.C., defending senior division champion Dede Cusimano of Basalt, Colo., and Malia Folquet of La Quinta, Calif., all move into Tuesday's second round with a one-stroke cushion over Beverly Davis of Riverside, Conn., and Bobbi Salmon of Tryon, N.C., both tied for fifth at four-over 76.
"It was a frustrating round of golf and it was very challenging," said Nevatt, head professional at The ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, Pa., who was the 2009 LPGA National Professional of the Year. "You always hope you can come out and play well, but I didn't have a very good putting day."
Austin, the former women's golf coach at the University of North Carolina, echoed that sentiment. The former Tar Heel coach carded two birdies, three bogeys and one double-bogey 3-putt from 20 feet on the sixth hole.
"You just can't afford to make bogeys out here for no good reason," said Austin, now a teaching professional at Chapel Hill Country Club.
Folquet moved into a share of the lead with some help from her driver today. The California pro drove the ball well to set up short irons into the greens, and converted many of her short shots into birdie opportunities.
"I worked hard for this 75 today," said Folquet, director of golf at Palm Valley Country Club in Palm Desert, Calif. "You have to keep your drives in play, and these greens are so great that if you keep the ball on line, you have a chance for birdie."
Cusimano ended today's round with a six-foot par save on the 18th green and called the slick Bermuda greens at The Golf Club at Ballantyne the "fastest Bermuda greens I've been on in years." She added that scoring this week on the course's sloping greens depends heavily on dialed-in approach shots.
"Whoever wins this week will win it on the greens," said Cusimano, a pro at the Roaring Fork Club outside Aspen, Colo.
The 2010 LPGA T&CP National Championship will produce a winner in the championship and senior divisions. This week's stroke-play tournament will be played over 54 holes with the championship division competing from 6,203 yards and the senior division competing from 5,749 yards.
Tuesday's second round will begin at 7:50 a.m., off the first and tenth tees, with the afternoon tee times starting at noon.
A 36-hole tournament cut will be made to the low 70 and ties following Tuesday's second round.
For scores and more information, visit the T&CP page of LPGA.com .
Weather: Sunny and clear with temperatures rising to the mid-80s with a slight breeze.