Brittany Altomare played 31 holes on Friday after play was suspended due to darkness on Thursday evening. The key to the 28-year-old American’s game on Friday was her short game and keeping her practice routine simple.
“I've been struggling this year with my putting, which is normally my strong suit, and I guess last night into today it just kind of all clicked, which is nice to see,” said Altomare, who made 15 birdies on Friday between her remaining 13 holes in the first round and 18 of her second round. “My coach told me not to practice and not to stress over it. And then he said just focus on my speed this week, and literally that's all I did. I just hit a lot of lag putts just focusing on my speed and it really made a difference.”
Altomare is still searching for her first LPGA Tour victory. She has made 12 starts on the 2019 LPGA season with a best finish of T11 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. She’s looking for some magic at Blythefield Country Club this weekend, which will be a sure boost of confidence heading into next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the third major of the LPGA season.
“Going into [a major], it's good to make a lot of birdies and be confident,” said Altomare, who finished second in the 2017 Evian Championship. “My goal's always to win, but I just wanted to put myself in contention because I haven't been there in a while and I just love that feeling, so I'm excited to be there this weekend.”
RECORD-SETTING DAY – AND MAYBE WEEK – FOR BROOKE HENDERSON
It’s safe to say that Brooke Henderson really likes it at Blythefield Country Club. The eight-time LPGA Tour winner from Canada opened the tournament with rounds of 64, her ninth and 10th rounds in the 60s at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. Her 36-hole 128? It’s the best Thursday and Friday of her LPGA career and the best opening two rounds ever at the Meijer LPGA Classic. Her previous best? A 130, which she shot here at Blythewood en route to victory in 2017.
“Generally, I play really well here,” said Henderson. “You can be pretty aggressive around here and tee shots are key, so when my driver's working, I think I give myself a lot of birdie opportunities.”
If Henderson keeps up this pace, she is also setting herself up for a Canadian-recording-setting ninth win on Sunday. She notched her eighth career victory in April at the LOTTE Championship to tie Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Knudson as the all-time winningest Canadian golfers.
KUPCHO MAKING TIRING BUT EXCITING TRANSITION TO LIFE ON TOUR
It’s week three as an LPGA professional for Jennifer Kupcho and the newbie has successfully made all three cuts. On Friday, Kupcho opened the Meijer LPGA Classic with back-to-back 67s and is currently six strokes behind first-round leader Brooke Henderson.
“[My game] is probably the best it's been since I turned pro,” said Kupcho, who recently graduated from Wake Forest University.” Coming off of Nationals, I've been exhausted and haven't been hitting it the best, and this tournament it's been very well, so it's really great. The last couple tournaments I've been struggling with that, so just to hit the ball well has been nice. I hit a lot of greens both rounds. I would just say pretty much everything is going good.”
Kupcho is learning the valuable lesson of digging deep to pull off low scores, quickly learning how to adjust to the grind of playing on Tour and thankfully traveling with her dad, Mike Kupcho, as her caddie.
“it's been a really tiring transition from college, but it's exciting to be out there playing for a living and have my dad with me,” said Kupcho. “He's seen me play more rounds than anyone else has, so he knows my game the best. I didn't really want to go through trying to search out a caddie, so I just decided he's been doing caddying my whole life, so I might as well just stick with it.”
ACES GALORE AT BLYTHEFIELD
No. 15 at Blythefield Country Club was the place to be in the first round, as four players drained aces at the 155-yard, par-3 hole. It marks the most aces in a single round since 1992, the earliest year to which the LPGA traces hole-by-hole stats.
Mariajo Uribe kicked off the party on Thursday night with her 7-iron, followed by another ace from Brooke Henderson with a 6-iron just before play was suspended. Haru Nomura and Giulia Molinaro added aces of their own, both with 7-irons, when the first round resumed on Friday morning. And to add to the fun, Lindy Duncan dropped one in at No. 7 in the second round, coming from 149 yards with a 7-iron.
For every hole-in-one during the 2019 LPGA Tour season, CME Group will donate $20,000 to St. Jude’s Research Hospital. With the five aces so far at Blythefield, the season tally jumps to 16 aces and $320,000. The four first-round aces alone cover the cost of a one-week hospital stay for a St. Jude’s patient.
“As soon as I made it, I was kind of thinking about (the donation) and how the money was going to go help some kids,” said Henderson. “That's just so important to me and I'm just really happy that I could help out in a small way.”
Rolex Rankings No. 8 Brooke Henderson (64-64)
- Henderson’s 128 is the lowest 36-hole score of her career and the lowest in championship history; her previous best was 130, a mark Henderson set en route to victory at the 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic
- Henderson’s 64s match her lowest round of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she shot a 64 in the third round of the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg
- She hit eight of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens, with 24 putts
- Henderson is in her fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she is an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour and is tied with Sandra Post’s record for most victories by a Canadian player in LPGA Tour history
- This is Henderson’s 13th event of the 2019 season; she has six top-10 finishes this season, including a win at the 2019 LOTTE Championship
- She is competing in her fourth Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; she tied for 44th in 2018, won in 2017 and tied for 21st in 2016
Rolex Rankings No. 54 Brittany Altomare (66-65)
- Altomare’s second-round 65 is her lowest round of the 2019 LPGA Tour season, having set a previous low of 66 in the first round; she previously shot a 68 in the first rounds of the LOTTE Championship, Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg and in the third round of the HSBC Women’s World Championship
- Altomare’s 131 is the lowest 36-hole score of her career; her previous best was 133, which she shot at the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
- She hit 11 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 25 putts
- Altomare is in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour; her career-best finish is second at the 2017 Evian Championship and the 2018 Buick LPGA Shanghai
- This is Altomare’s 12th event of the 2019 season; her best finish was a tie for 12th at the LOTTE Championship
- She is competing in her fourth Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; she missed the cut in 2018, tied for 48th in 2017 and finished 75th in 2016
Rolex Rankings No. 544 Jennifer Kupcho (67-67)
- Kupcho’s 67s are her first rounds in the 60s as a professional; her previous low rounds as a professional was a pair of 70s to open last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
- Her best round on the LPGA Tour is a 66, which she shot as an amateur competing in the 2018 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I
- She hit 10 of 13 fairways and 17 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Kupcho is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; she deferred accepting her card until completing the 2019 collegiate golf season and turned professional three weeks ago
- This is Kupcho’s third event of the 2019 season; she finished T62 at the U.S. Women’s Open and T43 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
- She is competing in her first Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
- In April, Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur
- Round 2 started at 10:45 a.m.
- Play was suspended at 9:19 p.m. and is scheduled to restart at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning