After 18 holes at Salina Country Club, Lisa DePaulo walked away with the lead. The Texan has played in a Senior LPGA Championship before, and played well, finishing T3 in 2021. She’s put in work for the past year, which was evident in today’s 7-under 65 performance.
“I have been working hard for 12 months,” said DePaulo. “That’s all I have to say. I work every day, whether it’s practicing or actually working more on my body and trying to get stronger.”
DePaulo hasn’t always had an easy journey in golf, as it took her 12 trips through Q school to earn her LPGA card. Her goal was to come out this week and play with the “big dogs,” but she’s done more than that. She finds herself ahead of the “big dogs,” leading the field by two strokes after carding eight birdies and a bogey-free front nine.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” said DePaulo. “I’ve been working really hard, so I’m looking forward to having two good days.”
Coming into this week after recovering from knee surgery and not playing in a tournament for a year, there were definitely some nerves for DePaulo. A last-minute caddy switch only elevated those feelings. Luckily, her new caddy reminds her of the late Harvey Penick, something that hits close to home for the Texan. The duo proved they work well together as DePaulo soared to the top of the leaderboard.
“It was really helpful having Randy and making sure I had my yardage that I wanted to lay on the ball,” said DePaulo. “He knows this course so well, so it was really helpful having that information, and then I executed. I hit good shots and then was able to hit good putts.”
Two strokes behind DePaulo, in solo second at 5-under 67, is 1998 Ladies European Tour (LET) Rookie of the Year, Laura Diaz. The New Yorker recorded eight birdies on the day, with a pair of two consecutives on Nos. 1 and 2, as well as Nos. 11 and 12.
“It’s good to have 18 holes under my belt,” said Diaz. “I’ll go out and get some practice in, get some rest and get at it again tomorrow.”
With a high temperature in the low 100s, the ladies are challenged. Diaz sported a cool rag on the back of her neck for most of the round. While it may be difficult to ignore the heat at times, Diaz does her best to keep her head in the game.
“It’s really just about staying hydrated,” said Diaz. “Not focusing so much on the heat and making sure you’re drinking constantly.”
World Golf Hall of Famer, Juli Inkster, sits one stroke behind Diaz, in solo third at 4-under 68. Inkster carded seven birdies on the day, four of which were consecutive and part of a massive run on the course’s back nine.
Six players are tied for fourth at 3-under 69, including Moira Dunn-Bohls, Leta Lindley, Cathy Johnston-Forbes, Nicole Jeray, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Becky Morgan. A total of 27 players shot even-par or better.