One of three teams to shoot 5-under par 65 early in the first round at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Jillian Hollis and Lauren Stephenson have taken different paths this season. Their strong friendship was on full display, however, with a bogey-free performance today.
“It was just a fun day,” said Stephenson. “We started on a good note. Jillian had a good up and down [on No. 1], so it kind of eased us right in. Zero bogeys in alternate shot which, on your own is impressive but to do that in alternate shot is pretty great.”
The other half of Team Chicks with Sticks added that their chip-ins and greens in regulation made all the difference.
“We had some good momentum early. I hit it pretty close on the second, she chipped in on the third hole from off the green,” said Hollis. “We were like, ‘Okay, if we miss greens, we will just chip them in or chip them close,’ and I think Lauren said we only missed like three greens. We’re good friends, so it was a lot of fun for us.”
Across 10 starts on the LPGA Tour this season, Hollis has made one cut with a T69 finish. As for Stephenson, the University of Alabama product has played the weekend 10 times in 13 starts with four top-15 results and a career-best showing of a tie for sixth at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.
The team atmosphere might be just what the doctor ordered for Hollis to get back on the track.
“I’ve been playing better lately, hitting it better and just trying to relax and remember playing well,” said Hollis, a two-time Epson Tour champion and 2019 “Road to the LPGA” graduate. “Need to have a short memory out here, I think. But playing here, we had such a great time and I forgot we were playing a tournament for a little bit. We feed off each other.”
Despite the differing trajectories with this duo, there’s unwavering faith in one another.
“We just trust each other. I never thought like, ‘If I put her in a bad place, she can’t get up and down’ or something,” Stephenson said. “It takes the pressure off. I knew if I hit it close, she was going to make the putt. Or the first hole, I missed the green and she chipped it to a foot. It’s nice knowing your partner has your back.”