Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic
The Links at Stoney Point
Greenwood, South Carolina
May 7, 2015
First-Round News & Notes
GREENWOOD, S.C., May 7, 2015 - It was a simple phone call to one of the greatest women’s golfers of all-time that sparked a 4-under 68 for Lacey Agnew (Jonesboro, Ga.) on Thursday to share the lead at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic with five other players.
The cluster at 4-under 68 also includes Brittany Altomare (Schrewsbury, Mass.), Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Quebec, Canada), Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu (Takamatsu City, Japan), Jennifer Kirby (Paris, Ontario) and Sara-Maude Juneau (Quebec, Canada).
Agnew, who met 48-time LPGA Tour winner Nancy Lopez two years ago, talked with Lopez on the phone on Wednesday night after playing with her on Monday in the pro-am at The Links at Stoney Point.
“I just asked her for some pointers and things she thought I could work on and she just told me to be confident,” said Agnew. “Like her, I’m an aggressive player, and she told me not to shy away from pins because there are some tricky greens out here and the closer you are to pins the easier the putts.”
Advice from one of the greatest of all-time never hurts. Agnew carded four birdies against no bogeys and felt she could have gone even lower.
“She is kind of the founder of golf and I was lucky to meet her a couple years ago,” said Agnew. “She has opened up to me and allowed me to ask her anything I want. I’m very blessed to have her in my cellphone and be able to call her and ask for help when I need it.”
The conversation translated to the course as Agnew hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and attempted 28 putts.
“Because I was able to get some close early, it allowed me to swing more freely,” said Agnew, who took full advantage of the par-5 holes with three birdies. “My wedge game was really solid.”
In her fourth full year, Agnew is vying for her first career win. She has three career top 10 finishes.
JUNEAU HAPPY TO BE IN MIX: Sara-Maude Juneau (Quebec, Canada) missed the cut at the last event and doesn’t have a top 20 finish this year. She has 11 career top 10 finishes and knows that she belongs in contention.
On Thursday, she carded a 4-under 68 to share the lead.
“I felt good about how I played today because it has been a tough beginning of the season for me,” said Juneau. “Right now, I’m not even focused on the leaderboard, I’m just happy with how I was able to play because I worked really hard on my game last week.”
Juneau now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and plays and practices out of Raintree Country Club, the home course of the Epson Classic in two weeks.
“I was at Raintree one day last week and something clicked with my chipping and I’ve been a lot more confident that if I don’t hit the green, I can save par,” said Juneau. “I’m probably going to be a home crowd favorite in a couple weeks.”
TIME TO FOCUS ON EPSON TOUR FOR KIRBY: Three-time All-American at Alabama Jennifer Kirby spent the 2014 season playing on the LPGA Tour, making 18 total starts. So far this year, she has two LPGA Tour starts and this is her fourth Epson Tour start.
The Paris, Ontario native posted a 4-under 68 by virtue of three birdies over her final five holes to share the lead.
“I played well all day and eventually got some putts to drop,” said the 24-year-old Kirby. “The turning point was the par-5 sixth hole when I hit the ball in the hazard and managed to save par and then I made some putts coming in.”
Kirby plans on focusing predominantly on the Epson Tour outside of a few LPGA events in Canada for her sponsors.
“Once the summer starts, I am really going to start to focus my time on the Epson Tour,” said Kirby. “It is a lot more comfortable to know exactly what you are playing week in and week it. It also helps to have a goal to work towards (getting back to the LPGA).”
Kirby qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2014 by finishing fifth at Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in December of 2013.
MORITA WANTS TO PLAY AGAINST WORLDS BEST: Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu (Takamatsu City, Japan) carded a 4-under 68 and is part of the cluster at the top of the leaderboard. She’s off to a surprisingly strong start in her rookie season especially considering this is the first time she has played in the United States. Morita-WanyaoLu ranks 23rd on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is fourth amongst Epson Tour rookies.
“My shots were really spot on so it made the putting easier,” said WanyaoLu through translator, caddie and agent Kei. “Score wise it was my best round as a professional, but I had a few bogeys so it could have been better.”
The biggest challenge for her has been adjusting to harder courses in the United States.
“Playing on Tour here in the United States really feels like true professional golf,” said WanyaoLu. “I really like it a lot here.”
She now has a home base in Orlando, Florida during the season.
One thing that inspired her to come play in the United States now was the fact that players her age like Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and others are winning.
“I want to replicate what they are doing.”
Her outlook is very different from most Japanese golfers her age and younger. WanyaoLu said that most in her generation currently look up to golfers on the JLPGA instead of the LPGA.
“It’s unfortunate that a lot of Japanese golfers don’t look more at the LPGA,” said WanyaoLu. “I wanted to take on the worlds best when I became a professional. Instead of staying in Japan, I always wanted to come and play in the United States.”
AC GREW UP HITTING GOLF BALLS ON A MAT IN THE SNOW: Anne-Catherine Tanguay (who goes by “AC”) grew up hitting colored golf balls off a mat when it was snowing in Canada. She also remembers using a snowmobile at the soccer field to pack in the snow in order to practice.
“That is how passionate my family was for golf,” said Tanguay, after carding a 4-under 68 to share the lead at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
Tanguay posted birdies on two of her final three holes to close in a share of the lead.
“It was really fun today, I had my mom on the bag for the first time ever,” said Tanguay, whose mom Lucie pushed the cart and really helped her. “She ended up making a few good calls and I used her advice a few times.”
On the 12th hole, her third of the day, Tanguay dropped a winding 40-50 foot putt.
“I had a good read on it from Haley’s (Italia) chip and I just putted it in,” said Tanguay while laughing. “It is also the hole that my host family is on so we thought that was fun too.”
Although she hasn’t posted a top 20 finish yet, Tanguay is enjoying year one as a professional.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I just think it is so much fun because you are doing what you did for your whole life except now you are getting paid for it,” said the 24-year-old. “I didn’t know how I’d handle the pressure of playing for money, but my mom used to always throw fun bets at me so that has prepared me.”
Lucie also introduced her to the game of golf.
“I was 10 years old and my mom got my siblings and I into golf,” explained Tanguay. “She wanted us to learn so that when we were older and were business people we could go play in company outings. I’m very competitive and golf just clicked when I was 13.”
Tanguay played college golf at Oklahoma. She was connected to Oklahoma through a fellow Canadian golfer and the head coach, Veronique Drouin-Luttrell, who is also from Quebec.
“She (coach) used to be on the Canadian National team and actually at my first Canadian Amateur she was competing in the field,” said Tanguay. “There was the comfort with the coach and one of my teammates, but my main criteria was the practice facility, which was amazing.”
Three of the six at the top of the leaderboard are Canadian.