Plasencia holds two-shot lead, group of four close behind
BEAUMONT, Calif. — For her first Symetra Tour event, Regina Plasencia (Guadalajara, Mexico) could not have asked for a better start after carding a 6-under par 66 today in the first round of the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
Plasencia used six birdies and an eagle to limit the damage of two bogeys, pointing to course management as the key to her success.
“I thought it was great. I played my approach shots really well, hitting it on the spots that I wanted to,” said Plasencia. “In my mind, I didn’t know exactly that I was 6-under until I saw it on the leaderboard. It was a great round.”
Going off in the afternoon wave, Plasencia had the benefit of noticing the low rounds from the morning session. Carleigh Silvers (Martinsville, Indiana), Christine Song (Fullerton, California) and rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand) each fired 4-under par. That was the mark for Plasencia and others to attack.
“The greens are pretty firm and a lot of pins you don’t have enough space for your approach shot to bounce and then stop on the pin,” Plasencia said.
In addition, Jenny Haglund (Karlstad, Sweden) made it four players at 4-under when she put up a 68 in the afternoon.
The group as a whole just two behind chasing Plasencia features the entire spectrum of Symetra Tour experience. A graduate in 2010 and 2013, Song hopes that provides a mental edge heading into the weekend.
“I consider myself a veteran, but I still have those days where I want to lay low,” said Song, who played Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon throughout her junior golf career. “It felt pretty good and I feel more confident with what I’m doing with my swing.”
Meanwhile, Anannarukarn just moved to the United States last week. She obviously still calls Thailand home, but will be based out of Texas when not competing in a tournament.
One of the first things she did when she landed on American soil was go to the first LPGA major of the year—ANA Inspiration—to watch her good friends Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn, as well as Atthaya Thitikul. Perhaps that provided some inspiration?
“I learned a lot watching my friends,” said Anannarukarn, who graduated from the American School of Bangkok. “I’m really excited since it’s my first tournament on the Symetra Tour, so I was really happy with the first round.”
First round play was suspended at 7:30 p.m. local time. Only one group did not finish and they will conclude their final two holes at 8 a.m. tomorrow. The second round will begin as scheduled at 7:20 a.m. with players going off No. 1 and No. 10 tee.
Meadow Fueled by Cactus Tour Win
After a sixth place finish in Winter Haven, Fla., at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) followed that up with an IOA Championship first round 3-under par 69 today.
“It’s the first time I’ve hit the ball really well in a long time, so I feel pretty comfortable,” said Meadow. “I lost it a little bit out there on the back (nine), but I know how to fix it. Have to get my weight into my right heel and then fire from there.”
Between tournaments, however, Meadow won the Cactus Tour event at Sundance Golf Club in Buckeye, Ariz., from March 27-29. The momentum has provided an extra foundation to grow her game so far this season.
“Winning is winning, it doesn’t matter where it is,” Meadow said. “It’s just a learning curve. If you can get confidence any way you can do it and come out here and not feel kind of rusty. It’s only the second event of the year, but I’ve played a ton of Cactus (Tour) events, so I don’t feel like it’s the start of the year. I’ve never had that (feeling) before.”
The win, coupled with a new bag from her sponsor Investec, has Meadow feeling good heading into the second round. She will tee off on No. 10 at 1:16 p.m. local time, just three shots off the lead.
Silvers Puts Herself in Prime Position
She’ll be the first to tell you that it has been a while since she has seen her name near the top of the leaderboard, but after today’s eventful 4-under par 68 first round at the IOA Championship, Carleigh Silvers is thankful to be within striking distance.
The scorecard was colorful, with eight birdies and four bogeys, but it still did the job.
“I putted really well, saved me a couple times,” said Silvers, who enters her fourth year on the Symetra Tour. “It’s really nice to be up there, see hard work and all that paying off.”
During the offseason, Silvers worked extensively to revamp her swing. After round one, to see that the process yielded some solid results is promising.
“My dad and I worked on a lot of things, and I felt like I really got a feeling, or zoned in on what exactly I need to do to get to where I need to be,” Silvers said. “I felt really good coming into this tournament about my ball striking because that has not always been the greatest.”
Playing the Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon for a fourth straight year, Silvers understands the intricacies that make the course unique. This time around, being on the first page of the leaderboard might be a place she stays.
Silvers looks to keep the process rolling tomorrow at 1:49 p.m. local time when she starts off No. 1 tee.