Daytona Beach Invitational
Presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
First-Round News & Notes
September 28, 2012
Courtney Massey Grabs First-Round Lead at Season Ending Event
Meet the Daytona Beach Invitational Leaders
A Year to Remember
Cool, Calm and Collected
Last CHAMPS Standing
Courtney Massey Grabs First-Round Lead at Season Ending Event
On a day where the pressure was high, Courtney Massey prevailed and fired a bogey-free 6-under par 66 to grab the first round lead at the season-ending Daytona Beach Invitational Presented by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Massey, who started her round on the back-nine at the LPGA International Champions Course, notched her first birdie of the day at the par-4 11th then her second birdie didn’t come until the par-5 18th. Massey continued her impressive play with a birdie on the par-4 first then followed it up with a birdie on the par-3 sixth.
The Gold Coast, Australia native then recorded back-to-back birdies on the par-4 eighth and par-5 ninth to tie her low round of the year. Massey previously shot a 6-under par 66 at the Credit Union Classic where she held a share of the lead after the first round.
Massey, who currently ranks 44th on the tour in greens and regulation, hit almost fairway during the first round and hit an impressive 16 greens.
“Today I hit almost every fairway and I hit 16 greens so that comes in handy around this golf course because the greens are either really big or really small,” Massey said. “There were some tough pins today so on most of them I was just trying to hit the green and two putt but I managed to make a few putts coming in so that came in handy.”
Brooke Pancake (@BrookePancake) sits one shot off the lead after carding a 5-under par 67. A group of eight players is 3-under par including Volvik No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth (@vegolf), No. 9 Nicole Smith (@NicoleSmithGolf) and No. 10 Sara-Maude Juneau(@smjuneau_3).
Meet the Daytona Beach Invitational Leaders:
Courtney Massey (-6): The Symetra Tour rookie has had a solid first season on the Road to the LPGA and has only missed one cut in nine starts. Massey has recorded four top-10 finishes and has a career-best T8 at the Northeast Delta Dental International. She’s currently ranked No. 37 in the Volvik Race for the Card and No. 7 in the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year standings. A Gold Coast, Australia native, Massey had three wins as an amateur in Australia a year ago and added two top-three finishes.
Brooke Pancake (-5): Pancake turned professional after an accomplished amateur and collegiate career at the University of Alabama and will look to translate some of her great recent successes to her young pro campaign. As a senior in 2012, she led the Crimson Tide to their first Women’s Golf NCAA National Championship and finished individual runner-up. She garnered several accolades throughout her career including SEC Female Athlete of the Year, the Honda Award (top collegiate female golfer) and was a three-time All American. Pancake was selected to the 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup Team and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. She has had three appearances this year on the Road to the LPGA and has a season-best T6 at the Eagle Classic in Richmond, Va.
It took Massey some time to calm her nerves once turning pro but the jitters have subsided and Massey has recorded four top-10 finishes in the nine events she has played on the Symetra Tour this year. After a first-round 6-under par 66, Massey is on track to notch her best finish this season.
“It has been good. In Q-School last year I was always a little bit nervous,” said Massey. “Turning pro is a big thing so this year I just wanted to make some putts and I’ve only missed one cut. The four top-10’s are always good, it means that I’m up there and if I can keep this going today then it could be my best finish.”
Massey currently stands 37th on the money list and while she cannot move into the top-10, a good finish this week could catapult her into the top-20 and allow her to bypass Stage II of Qualifying School. The top-10 on the money list at the end of this week who do not already have LPGA status will go directly to Stage II of Qualifying School but according to Massey, she hasn’t given the benefit much thought.
“I don’t really think about that,” said Massey. “I guess it’s a good thing but I’ve only finished the first round and I still have two to go so that’s not really in my head at the moment.”
Added Support…First-year Symetra Tour member Brooke Pancake came into the season-ending event knowing she wouldn’t be in the hunt to clinch her LPGA Tour Card this week. But the Chatanooga native had some personal goals of her own that will position her to.
“I’m trying to play my game and try to put myself in a situation where I know what I can work on for second stage of Q School,” said Pancake. “So going at it with the best mentality and if I need to work on things, I have a week to do it.”
After an opening round 5-under 67, Pancake didn’t show too many weaknesses in her game. And she wasn’t the only one happy with her performance on Friday. Pancake’s grandfather, Jim Eakin, is caddying for her this week.
“It’s so nice to see her play that well,” said Eakin.
Pancake carded six birdies and a bogey on the par 3 sixth and said that some solid par-save putts kept her round together. She headed to the 18th with four-consecutive par holes behind her and was really looking forward to a strong finish.
“It’s really nice to finish that way,” said Pancake. “I looked at my grandfather and said ‘I’m going for it Jimbo,’ hitting the green.”
After her fifth and final birdie, she described the perks of having her grandfather on her bag, though they ran into a bit of ‘pull cart misfortune.’ But even a wheel misfortunate couldn’t hamper the duo.
“He’s carried for me at a U.S. Am qualifier, one day deals,” said Pancake. “This will be the first time for a whole tournament. He’s even got the caddy bib. He’s just really encouraging. There was one precious moment when we were getting shuttled and he insisted on pulling the cart while we were sitting. The cart wheel got caught under and broke the wheel and turned into and ordeal. He felt so bad!”
Cool, Calm and Collected… With the Daytona Beach Invitational Presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical serving as the last stop on the Symetra Tour schedule, the pressure is increasing for players to finish inside the top-10 on the Volvik Race for the Card and earn their LPGA Tour card for 2013.
Sara-Maude Juneau leaped into the 10th spot on the Volvik Race for the Card standings after her impressive play as of late. After missing the cut at the Credit Union Challenge, Juneau has posted two tied for 33rd finishes, a tied for sixth at the Eagle Classic and third at last week’s Vidalia Championship.
While most people would feel the pressure at the 10th spot, Juneau is relying on her recent play to solidify a spot on next year’s LPGA Tour.
“I try not to let it,” Juneau said of drowning out the pressure. “I’m playing good right now, I’m hitting it well, putting well so I’m just trying to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Juneau has also relied on her laidback demeanor and support from her friends to just have fun in the midst of a pressure packed week.
“It really does help because I think you can get caught up in the situation and start panicking,” said Juneau. “I had friends following today and I was just here to have a good time.”
Crowd Surfing…No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth got off to a fast start in Friday’s first round and attributed her strong play to some extra support from her personal gallery that followed her during her round. Elizabeth started the day on the 10th and rattled of her four birdies on the back nine. She would card one bogey on the par 3 third and said several lip outs on the front nine held her back.
“My caddie said let’s get a strong off strong and not look back because I hate coming from behind so it started off good,” said Elizabeth. “I birdied the first two and hit it well all day and gave myself a lot of chances especially on the back nine and made a couple good putts. Wish I could have continued it on the front nine but nothing wanted to go in. Hopefully I’m saving them for the rest of the weekend.”
Elizabeth, who recorded her first-career victory earlier this season at the Credit Union Classic in Syracuse, NY, said her goal of winning every tournament has not changed even though she has already locked up a spot in the top-10 on the Tour’s money list.
“My goal every week is to win and I think that would get me to No. 1 so that’s what I’m keeping in mind,” said Elizabeth. “But just play like any other week. This week is really special for me. In my head I’m moving onto the next level and have a lot of friends and family here.
“I love playing front of a crowd,” said Elizabeth. “It’s nice to have one. To have my family here, my mom sister and grandparents and a bunch of friends, it’s great. I love that they’re all here and it makes me want to play better for them.”
Volvik Check-In…Players in the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 who were in action on Friday were found all over the leaderboard after 18 holes of play. A group of three in Race positioned themselves nicely heading into the weekend as No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth, No. 9 Nicole Smith and No. 10 Sara-Maude Juneau sit three shots off the lead and are T3 after carding opening rounds of 3-under 69. Results for the remaining top-10 are as follows: No. 4 Thidapa Suwannapura and No. 7 Jenny Gleason: T11 (2-under 70); No. 2 Esther Choe: T23 (1-under 71); No. 1 Paola Moreno, No. 6 Julia Boland, No. 8 Jenny Suh: T41 (even-par 72); No. 5 Mi Hyang Lee: T60 (1-over 73).
Last CHAMPS Standing…Aimee Neff (Carmel, Ind.) and Allison Hanna (Portland, Ore.) came into the final week of the season as the final two players in the Last CHAMP Standing competition. Neff and Hanna survived three rounds of play that started with 16 players in match-play format. Due to poor weather conditions, the two finalists were unable to get in their 18 hole final round and decided to split the prize. Both players will walk away with a $1,500 prize and will be presented their check at the tournament’s awards ceremony on Sunday.