For her first time in Northern Ireland, Sarah Burnham sure seems to feel right at home.
The Michigan State University alumna carded a career-low opening round of 5-under 68 on Thursday at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management.
“It feels good because I feel like my game has been a work in progress throughout the years,” said Burnham, in her third season on the LPGA Tour. “I definitely feel like this is my best [year] on Tour so far, but I think that comes with growing and learning. Overall, I would say the whole year [has been the best state of my game]. Last year, I only made two cuts. I’m like [making] every other cut [it seems], so this is nice to have a good start to the week.”
With six birdies on the first-round scorecard, including three straight from Nos. 15-17, Burnham found a groove early to snag the clubhouse lead out of the morning wave. It was a par save and confidence from her caddie on the final hole that she pointed to as a pivotal moment setting her up for Massereene Golf Club tomorrow.
“I made a big putt on No. 17 and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m at 5-under.’ I kind of got to the stage where I was like, ‘Don’t mess up,’ and then I put it in the fairway bunker [off the tee on No. 18]. Hit it out, just barely hit the lip and went way up,” Burnham said. “I didn’t hit a great third shot to lay up, miraculously hit it to five feet and made the par. My caddie [Jim Stoll] was like, ‘This is going to be a really good par,’ before I hit that [fourth] shot.
“I had to go at it because I was like, ‘I’ve got to save it, my caddie wants me to save par.’ It turned out.”