England’s Charley Hull shot a 3-under 68 on Thursday and holds a one-stroke lead heading into the second round of the 2020 Volunteers of America Classic at Old American Golf Club. With six birdies, four of which recorded on Nos. 2-7, Hull managed to record her career-best VOA Classic 18-hole score.
“I was so cold out there,” said Hull in a beanie and red parka. “I played pretty solid. The golf course is playing so much different than it did last year. It's playing a lot longer, which I prefer. I struggled swinging the last two holes, I just got so cold. Along that lake you just get like freezing,” said Hull of her finish with a bogey on the penultimate hole.
With colder conditions, long hitters certainly had an advantage. For Hull, though she wasn’t as accurate as she wanted, she said her swing still felt great. Riding on the momentum after her first birdie of the day at her eighth hole (No. 17), Hull carries the 18-hole lead for the first time since the 2016 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, where she finished in a tie for eighth.
“I felt like I was hitting it really well up until [the eighth hole]. Actually, I didn't hit a green, but I was always just like a club short or something or half a club short and I was still putting just off the green, but I felt like I was hitting it pretty well and then just made some birdies coming in,” said Hull.
Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Jessica Korda and Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum are tied for second at -2. All three players agreed the chilly conditions were the story of the day, as all looked forward to warmer temperatures predicted for Friday.
“I'm feeling very cold today, yeah. So I just focus on like every shot that I play and just keep myself warm and bring a lot of clothes, jacket and like hand warmer and then so I don't like cold weather,” said Phatlum.
“I was just trying to stay warm. It was just really tough trying to figure out the wind, cold, wind and the cold. But yeah, no, happy with 2 under,” said Korda. “Made a bogey on my last hole, which, you know, oh, well, happens, but all in all it was a good day.”
Five players are tied for fifth at -1, including major champions Brittany Lang and Anna Nordqvist. Defending champion Cheyenne Knight is tied for 10th after a first-round 71 along with seven other players.
First round play was suspended for darkness at 5:10 p.m. CT and will resume at 7:20 a.m. on Friday.
CHARLEY HULL OR CHARLEY HAUL? MAY BE THE LATTER VOA FIRST ROUND
Through wind and through chill, LPGA Tour player Charley Hull finished the first round of Volunteers of America Classic as solo leader at -3 after recording a first-round 68. Hull, who is playing in only her sixth event of the 2020 season, was impressed on the way she responded to the conditions at the Old American Golf Club.
“I hit my irons pretty good and I holed out pretty well. I just felt like my all-around game was good. I was just so cold there, like I struggled swinging the last couple holes, which was really annoying, but it was all right. I get quite tight around my hips and it's something I always struggle with and when it's cold, it's even worse,” said Hull.
Always one’s own toughest critic, despite her tight hips, the 24-year-old braved the chilly winds and looks forward to round two, mostly because she doesn’t mind the conditions.
“I kind of prefer a longer golf course and how the golf course is. I don’t like them when they're short and you have to hit wedges in. I'd much rather be hitting a 4-iron in than a gap wedge. I just wish we had longer golf courses and I think they suit me, that's why the majors suit me more,” said the seven-year LPGA Tour player.