CLIFTON, NEW JERSEY | Ally Ewing shot 5-under par after round one at Upper Montclair Country Club. This isn't the first time Ewing has produced an impressive result at a new host course. Both her LPGA wins, the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play hosted by Shadow Creek in 2021, and the LPGA Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee were fresh locations.
"I think some of it's an expectation. You don't really know what the expectation is. You have no idea what the winning score is going to be, or what the conditions have played like. I think I come in here or to new courses with a little bit of expectation freedom, so to speak. I stay within myself and work more on executing shot by shot, hole by hole, and it's obviously done well for me at some events," Ewing said.
Ally finished the day with six birdies, three bogeys, and a 63-foot eagle putt on hole 12. She attributed the eagle as a stroke of luck, but since her birdies fell at various distances, Ewing was clearly dialed in.
"I'm just seeing where the ball is going to track and end somewhere within close proximity of the hole. Every once in a while, you match up the line and the speed, and the putt goes in," she said.
The 29-year-old from Mississippi, who is currently 33rd on the Rolex Rankings, said there's room to improve throughout the week.
"The third hole, I just had a near-impossible up-and-down and just took what I could. I feel like I can clean up some of the shots, but I also made some really good par saves today, so when I look back at the day as a whole, there is a lot of good," Ally said.
After gaining momentum with two birdies in a row, Ally remained patient and avoided tempting pins that cut corners.
"I would say for me when I started birdie, birdie, bogey, birdie, at some point I was kind of, like, okay, let's just kind of steady this ship, and I actually had over 40 feet on No. 5 and didn't have great speed on the putt, so I still had an 8-footer to make, and I rolled that in," Ewing said.
Along with trying to execute a better technique, Ewing said, shooting low on a regular basis requires not getting into your head and laughing off a lousy shot. She shanked the ball on hole 13 but knew she could recover after having a similar experience in Sioux Falls on the Epson Tour.
"I did it on a par-3, but I actually shot 7- or 8-under that day. I got up and down for a par from a par-3 tee shot. It is what it is. I laughed it off." Ally said.
Ewing is focusing on staying disciplined and making as many shots as she can this week.
"I think it takes patience. I think it takes good strategy. Getting around today and having the good strategy, but also executing on top of it is why I shot 5-under," she said.
Ally said she is excited about seeing so many under-par holes from the first round and is looking forward to the rest of the Founders Cup presented by Cognizant.
"It's such a driving course. You have to keep it in the fairways, and the fairways were really, really tight, so I think from square one, I was setting myself up with a lot of really good drives, but it's still a very demanding approach-shot type course. It's obviously done well for me, but there is a long way to go," Ewing said.
The Mississippi State alum was happy with today's result and her former collegiate team as they advanced to play in the NCAA Championship Finals later this month.
"I was so excited. I'm thankful that they were finished on a Wednesday instead of mid-round having to worry. I was a little nervous, but they were gutsy. They hung in there, and I'm really excited to see all the hard work they've put in. They deserve it," Ally said.