news 1 week ago

Northern Ireland's Meadow leads LPGA Volunteers Classic

AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) -

Northern Ireland's Stephanie Meadow reeled off five consecutive birdies Thursday in firing an eight-under par 63 to grab the lead after Thursday's opening round of the LPGA Volunteers of America Classic.

The 27-year-old Meadow, who represented Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics, enjoyed a bogey-free start to seize a two-stroke edge over Americans Amy Olson and Dori Carter after 18 holes at par-71 Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas.

"A little bit of putting and a little bit of really good ball-striking," said Meadow, who led Alabama to a US women's college golf crown in 2012. "It's been a while since I've put five in a row, which is fun. You know, you don't want to stop after three, you want to keep going."

The birdie run began for Meadow at the par-5 second and included the par-3 third and fifth, the par-4 fourth and the par-5 sixth holes. She followed with birdies at the par-5 13th, par-4 15th and par-3 16th holes.

Her career-low round was a bright spot in what has been a difficult year for Meadow.

She gained full LPGA Tour status for 2019 by finishing in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour's Race to the Card but has made just nine cuts in 20 starts and is again facing a trip to the qualifying series.

"Honestly, I know I need a big week this week, so whatever I score today didn't really matter, I'm just trying to get to the end goal," Meadow said.

Olson, whose best LPGA showing was a share of second at the 2018 Evian Championship, made seven birdies and a bogey for a solid start.

"I just didn't get myself into any trouble and made quite a few putts," Olson said. "If the putter is working that's always fun."

Carter made nine birdies, including four in a row to start the back nine, but stumbled late with a double bogey at 15, although birdies at 16 and 17 kept her on Meadow's heels.

China's Liu Ruixin fired the low round of her career despite feeling ill to share fourth on 66 with American Cheyenne Knight and Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn.

"I don't feel really good this week. I'm pretty sick," she said. "I don't have much expectation. I attacked all 18 holes. That's why I had so many birdie opportunities."

Liu, who began on the back nine, answered a bogey at 16 with an eagle at the par-5 17th, smacking her approach 270 yards with a 7-wood to six feet and sinking the putt.

From there she birdied 18 and then every other hole she played, the second, fourth, sixth and par-4 eighth before a closing bogey dropped her back.

"From that eagle I really came alive," Liu said.