The LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala is the third event of the Drive On Championships series, which began with the LPGA Drive On Championship—Inverness last July and was followed by the LPGA Drive On Championship—Reynolds Lake Oconee in October. Two-time LPGA Tour champion Austin Ernst has been part of all three fields and earned a pair of top-25 finishes in 2020.
After day one in Marion County, Ernst is right on her way to another. She is one of three individuals tied for the lead thanks to seven birdies en route to a 5-under par 67.
“Game feels really good. Made some good putts today, hit some good shots. Kind of had a mix of some quality iron shots and then some good putting,” said Ernst, who started slowly with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 3 and 4. “The front nine I struggled early, but overall it was really good. Then I had a really good chip-in on No. 17.”
Ernst’s most recent LPGA Tour victory came at the 2020 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. With all of the absurdity comes a lot of respect from Ernst, who is simply grateful to compete in another tournament during the challenging times for many.
“It's really cool that the Tour has backed a few of these [Drive On Championships]. We've had Volvik this week helping to put it on. But to be able to play while we're still in the middle of a pandemic and a lot of places are in lockdown, it's really fortunate that we get to play,” Ernst said. “I know we're all very happy that we're getting to play.”