On Thursday at the Mizuho Americas Open in Jersey City, N.J., it was Kentuckian Lauren Hartlage going low at Liberty National Golf Club, firing a bogey-free, 7-under 65, her new career-low round on the LPGA Tour. Hartlage made five birdies on Thursday, three on the front nine and two on the back nine, but the highlight of her round came on the par-5, 10th hole, her first hole of the day. The 25-year-old stuffed it on her second shot, hitting 5-wood from approximately 230 yards to inside two feet, setting up a tap-in eagle allowing the University of Louisville alum to get started off on the right foot.
“it started off really well. I eagled the first hole. Hit it to a foot and tapped in for eagle, so getting off to a really good start always helps,” said Hartlage who hit 13 of 18 greens and 14 of 14 fairways in round one. “I was just hitting my driver great. I think I hit almost every fairway, and out here getting yourself in a good position, the greens are pretty receptive, so it's getting yourself in the fairway, and I gave myself a lot of good birdie chances.”
Hartlage is in her second season on the LPGA Tour and things have been really up-and-down for her thus far in 2023. She’s missed three cuts in seven starts, but has also recorded one top-10 finish, a tie for sixth that came in April at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei. Hartlage says a lot her sporadic play that is a result of swing changes she’s working on with swing coach, Grant Waite, with whom she began working a month before the start of her season at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain.
“Honestly, it's funny because last week playing in Vegas, I was 0-3. Couldn’t hit a fairway, and then you go the next week and work on some things at the beginning of the week and turn it all around. With golf, it's just you got to stay patient and positive, and that's kind of what I've been doing,” Hartlage said. “(I) Feel like I hadn't been playing quite as well the last couple weeks but working with the new swing coach and getting some good swing changes going, which has been really helpful. Kind of nice to see that work paying off this week.”
A caddie change also seems to be working well for Hartlage. The Elizabethtown, K.Y. native has had childhood friend, Michael Reed, on the bag for the last two events and says that having a familiar face loop for her has really helped the last couple of weeks, not to mention how well Reed can see lines on the greens.
“This is the second week. Brought someone from home. We grew up playing golf at the same course at home together. Just called him,” she said. “He’s a really great green reader, which has been really helpful, and we kind of know each other really well. It's been comfortable and fun having him on the bag.”