IOA Golf Classic
Alaqua Country Club
March 28, 2014
First-Round News & Notes
Llaneza made six birdies on the day including a birdie on the par-3 18th.
“It was a fun day, I really enjoyed myself out there today,” said Llaneza. “The pace of play was really good and the course is in good shape so it was just a good round and the birdies just kept falling.”
Llaneza was tied with a group of three other players at 4-under-par when she approached the 18th tee.
“I glanced at the scoreboard when I was walking towards the green at 18 and I knew that putt was to take the lead,” said the Mexico City, Mexico native. “It was a lot of fun to make it and take the lead.”
Llaneza has six top-10 finishes on the Symetra, but has never led after the first-round.
“I don’t think I’ve been in the lead after the first round on the Symetra Tour so it’s really exciting,” said Llaneza. “Players here are really good so you just have to stay aggressive and go for another good round tomorrow.”
Llaneza, who played in three events on the LPGA Tour last year, is not changing anything for Saturday.
“The greens are small so I’m just going to try to keep it in the middle of the green to give myself birdie putts,” said Llaneza. “Tonight, I’m going to forget about golf and go have dinner and then get some rest.”
Four players are tied for second including Orlando resident Tracy Stanford who shot a 4-under 67 in the first-round of the IOA golf classic.
Stanford played a bogey-free round of golf.
“It was a lot of fun and I played really well,” said Stanford. “I just hit the shots that I wanted to and on the par-5 holes I had some really good wedge shots and it left me some short putts and I made those.”
Stanford made birdie on three of the four par-5 holes including all three on the back nine.
“It is definitely a great start and I’ll kind of keep my same routine each day,” said Stanford. “I’m really going to try and forget about today to be honest.”
Stanford made all four of her birdies on the back nine. She made back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes.
Stanford, who grew up in Midland, Texas, currently resides 40 minutes from Alaqua Country Club.
“This week is great, I could go see my trainer for a few days on Monday and Tuesday and then I have the ability after rounds to go where I call home and relax,” said Stanford. “I’m very fortunate; it’s not something that happens every week on the road.”
Stanford has three career top-10 finishes on the Symetra Tour. She finished in a tie for fifth at the Friends of Mission Charity Classic.
“For tomorrow, I’ll get here with plenty of time to warm up and just keep the plan same old-same old.”
Cindy Feng, who won the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Sara Brown and Kendall Dye are also 4-under after the first round.
Feng, the current Volvik Race for the Card money list leader, had an up-and-down round that included five birdies, one eagle and three bogeys.
“I made a lot of putts, but I also made a few bogeys so it was up and down,” said the 18-year-old Feng. “ Putting was good, but I wasn’t hitting it that good.”
Feng eagled the par-3 third hole.
Dye, who shot a 3-under 69 in the first-round of the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, shot a 4-under 67 to stand one shot off the lead.
“I had a small blip last weekend with two not-so-great rounds and then I played solid in the pro-am yesterday and I was able to carry it onto today,” said Dye. “I only hit 11 greens, but I hit it pretty solid and had two chip-ins so it was a pretty solid day overall.”
Dye credited her caddy Debbie Raso for contributing to her strong play.
“She is a veteran, she won four times caddying back in the day,” said Dye. “She’s awesome, I just really felt at home with her and you can just tell that she has been around the game and in the heat of the battle.”
Brown made four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th hole.
The former Michigan State Spartans golfer finished her day strong with a birdie on 15 and a birdie on 18.A cluster of eight players finished at 2-under and are three shots off the lead.
ANOTHER STRONG ROUND FOR ESCALLON: Laura Gonzalez Escallon finished in a tie for eighth last week at the Florida’s Natural Charity. In her first-round at the IOA Golf Classic, she fired a 2-under-par 69 to sit in a tie for sixth.
Escallon made bogey on the 11th hole and made the turn at 1-over-par. The La Hulpe, Belgium native strung together four consecutive birdies between the second and fifth holes to get back into the mix near the top of the leaderboard.
Four of her eight total rounds this year on the Symetra Tour have been under par.
“I just really let go, stopped trying so hard, and let the round come to me and it worked well today,” Sheils said.
Sheils, who is tied for 14th at one-under, likes the challenge that the par-71 course presents the competition and the way that players need to think their way around Alaqua.
“I like the way you have to plot your way around the course, it suits my game well,” Sheils explained. “It’s about being in the right place. I went today without losing a ball which is good because this place should be called “all agua” instead of Alaqua.”
Sheils preparation and execution showed as she hit 10-of-13 fairways and 15 greens on her round.
The Idaho native and Nebraska alum hopes to continue her strong play into the weekend and move up the rankings in the Volvik Race for the Card.
“I feel like I’m set up good after the first day. You can’t win a tournament in one day but you can lose it. I put myself in good position today and I feel like I can go lower so I’m looking forward to the next few days.”
“I actually didn’t see it go in,” Wong admitted. “We were wondering why everyone was clapping. It was pretty exciting and I wasn’t expecting it. It hasn’t sunk in yet so we’ll see how I feel later.”The hole-in-one was the first of Wong’s professional career and third in her life. Previously, Wong made holes-in-one during a match play competition when she was 15-years-old and in a tournament during her third year at San Diego State.
The ace capped off an impressive inward half for Wong who used a trio of birdies and the ace to move from five-over through ten to even heading into round two.
“I don’t have any plans for the ball yet,” Wong said. “I might try to get a picture with it by the hole later. We’ll see.”