EL DORADO, Arkansas, September 15, 2017 - Rachel Rohanna (Waynesburg, Pa.) heated up on her inward nine with four straight birdies to post a 5-under, 67 to share the 18-hole lead with Dottie Ardina (Philippines), who made a 30-footer on nine, at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout on Friday. The 67’s tie the tournament record for lowest 18-hole round. No. 2 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, Celine Boutier (Montrouge, France), is in third place after a 4-under, 68. Symetra Tour winners Augusta James (Bath, Ontario) and Hannah Green (Perth, Australia) are tied for fourth at 3-under, 69.
A total of 14 players were under-par and Ardina was the only player in the field that did not make a bogey.
Rohanna, who ranks 26th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list in just 11 starts, could move as high as 15th with the first-place payout of $15,000.
The second-round will begin Saturday at 7:15 a.m.
“This course calls for really good shots and you have to make a lot of putts and that is what I did today,” said Rohanna, who attempted 28 putts on the day. “I made some 5-10 footers so it felt like a very easy 5-under and those are always fun. Overall, I’m very happy with how I played and happy to get the first one under my belt.”
Rohanna made birdie on number one, her tenth hole of the day, and then reeled in birdies on holes four through seven. She nearly holed out from the bunker for a second time on number eight.
“On four, I holed out from the bunker and that was fun because I haven’t had one of those in a couple of years,” said Rohanna. “Everything really came together on my back nine and Mary (Narzisi) kept me really calm out there.”
Rohanna, 26, has split time this year on the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour. She has made three cuts in eight starts on the LPGA including a T39 in late August at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. She will skip the next two Symetra Tour events after Arkansas and will head to New Zealand to play the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open.
“I luckily got into the New Zealand event in a couple weeks so I am going to skip Prattville and Longwood, but I’m happy to be going to another LPGA event and then I will come back for the Tour Championship,” explained Rohanna. “The goal is to earn my LPGA card back either through the Symetra Tour or the LPGA.”
Rohanna knows the difficulty of trying to earn a Tour card through the Symetra Tour. In 2015, she needed a 4-footer on the last hole of the Tour Championship to finish tenth on the money list by a mere $284.
“It’s really difficult on the Symetra Tour at the end of the year because you’re playing against players scratching to get into the top 10,” explained Rohanna. “I’m looking forward to going to New Zealand and trying to climb up the LPGA rankings.”
Rohanna played at Mystic Creek in 2015 and finished T9. It’s a course that suits her.
“I really enjoy being at Mystic Creek,” said Rohanna. “I remember shooting a 77 in the first round two years ago and was in the top 20. It took some mental preparation to realize that the greens are more receptive this year. It still calls for really good ball striking and making putts. Experience on this course is most important and luckily I remember a lot of shots from two years ago.”
Rohanna won the 2015 Sara Bay Classic on the Symetra Tour and has 12 career top 10 finishes.
Meanwhile, Ardina was bogey-free. She made a 30-footer on the tough ninth green to cap her day.
“The plan was just to make par and get out of there,” said Ardina about the birdie. “I just wanted a two-putt and it was an uphill and downhill putt so my mom just said to get it close, but it went in so that was a nice bonus.”
Like Rohanna, Ardina has been playing on the LPGA Tour recently.
“Symetra and LPGA are both tough, I can’t say that it is easier here,” said Ardina. “Everyone is good here, you have to play a little better on the LPGA.”
Ardina has good memories at Mystic Creek. She finished seventh at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout last year.
“You have to do a lot of course management and hit the ball where you will have the easiest spot to putt,” explained Ardina. “The greens are very tricky. It reminds me a lot of Pinehurst. “
Ardina played Pinehurst about ten years ago in the U.S. Kids.
“The greens and the undulations really remind me of Pinehurst,” said Ardina. There are also no flat fairways here.