After starting the day off No. 10 at Kapolei Golf Club, Brittany Altomare made the turn 2-under par after two birdies and a bogey. Looking to turn up the heat in sunny Hawaii, Altomare turned to her caddie Charlie Ryan for guidance on her putts on Nos. 1 and 2, and suddenly, the momentum kicked in. By the time she finished the day, the Massachusetts native recorded a string of seven-consecutive birdies and carded an 8-under 64, tying Yuka Saso for the first-round lead.
“I try to stay one shot at a time, but towards the end I kind of realized (the streak), and then I chipped in on 7 and just started laughing. I'm just like, ‘just one of those days’, which was fun. Hasn't happened in a while, so I was excited,” said Altomare, whose highest finish this season is T23 at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala.
This is the first time she can remember carding seven consecutive birdies, “even in practice,” said the 30-year-old. Her 64 ties her career-best 18 holes, last recorded in the second round at the 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, where she finished T13. The streak ties the Tour’s second-best number for consecutive birdies, last done by Isi Gabsa at the 2019 Portland Classic. Jeongeun Lee and Nicole Broch Larsen are the last two players to record seven-straight birdies in the same round, both achieving the feat at the 2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
“This week like I just really like the greens here. They're smooth. I think when you putt where you want to, like it's going to go there. Like there is no -- it's not bumping around or anything,” said Altomare. “I think if you're putting well you can make a lot of putts out here.”
Altomare hopes to continue building on her successful first round by honing in on what’s been working for her. Just stay steady and consistent. My putter obviously feels really good. My coach and I have been working a lot on some things in my driver, and I'm finally starting to feel comfortable with it,” said Altomare. “So I think if I can just stay consistent off the tee and just kind of keep working on what we been working on.”
BRIANNA DO WITH FAMILIAR FACE ON THE BAG IN PARADISE
After a first-round 68, Brianna Do was proud of the effort she gave at Kapolei Golf Club. In her fifth appearance at the LOTTE Championship since 2014, Do described what helped her through a satisfying day one.
“I was driving the ball really well,” said Do, who only missed one fairway all day. “Once I got it in the fairway I had a good caddie to help me with my approach and giving the wind enough credit of where it would push the ball or if it hurt or help and stuff.”
Her caddie? Tadd Fujikawa, one of the youngest players to ever make the cut in a PGA Tour event. At 16 years and four days, Fujikawa played the weekend at the 2007 Sony Open, finishing T20 and becoming the third-youngest to see the weekend at a tournament in the Tour’s history. The Honolulu native calls Kapolei Golf Club his home, and was itching to get on a bag.
“I've known Tadd since we were maybe like 12. He reached out to a friend of ours and she already had a caddie and she was like, Hey, Tadd is looking for a caddie, and normally he's not here on the island, and once he became -- I was like, Yeah, I'm going to be here,” said Do. “I was like, Done. It's a no-brainer. Your home course. You're one of the best golfers on the island. So like why would I not take him? So glad it worked out.”
Fujikawa may play this course on the regular, but he was impressed with the women’s game he was able to take in during the first day of LOTTE. “They hit it so straight it's sickening. Yeah, it's a different game out here, you know, just the consistency. With the men's game it's a lot about distance now and that's kind of like the thing,” said Fujikawa. “But, man, these women can hit the ball, I mean, so straight. Putting is unbelievable. Short game is really good. Just solid, solid golf. I mean, boring golf, you know, which is great. That's the kind of golf I want to play.”
The two working in tandem said they’re up for challenge of what tomorrow may bring. “He knows the greens very well, so I had him read pretty much almost all my putts and he was spot on. I mean, he was like, Okay, hit it here, and I would hit it there and it would go in or be close,” said Do. “So that just helps a lot. I mean, with the wind it affects every shot, especially putts, and so just having some local knowledge definitely helps with every shot, let alone just the birdie opportunities and par putts and stuff like that.”