STRÖM, MAGUIRE TIED FOR LEAD AFTER FIRST ROUND
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Two rookies stand alone at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at Willow Run Golf Course, as Linnea Ström (Hovas, Sweden) and Leona Maguire (County Cavan, Ireland) look down on the rest of the 144-player field.
Each recorded a bogey-free, 5-under par 65 this afternoon and head into day two with a two-shot advantage.
“It was pretty windy out there the whole round, so I was trying to stay in the present and I think that is the most important thing to do,” said Ström, currently No. 23 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “Some of the pin placements were tough out there. I just tried to stay focused and take it one shot at a time.”
As Ström mentioned, the weather was a big factor when it came to scoring today. Competitors battled steady winds of 12-17 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph. The leaders were also two of only 10 players from the morning wave that found themselves under par after day one.
Meanwhile, spending the off week in her native country helped Maguire prepare for the conditions.
“The weather wasn’t too different, it was quite windy and I did get to practice my wind shots, which I didn’t know I would use so quickly,” said Maguire, who recorded her career-best score to par so far in her young professional career. “I was really happy with my round, feel like I have been close for a few weeks now and it just kind of clicked a little better. Also had some nice putts, which I have been struggling with lately. It was nice to see them drop today.”
Ström also spent time at home across the pond, two weeks in fact. She missed the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship to take some extra rest and start mentally preparing for the Million Dollar Drive of six straight events to conclude the season with a total combined purse of roughly one-third the entire year’s prize money.
“I think that was really important to get some energy before the final stretch of tournaments,” Ström said. “I’m in a good mood right now coming back from Sweden and am going to enjoy every moment. I am so lucky to be out here doing what I love and that is what I am going to do.”
A group of four players went 3-under par in round one, while five individuals will enter day two at 2-under par. Second round action gets underway tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. CT with competitors going off No. 1 and No. 10 tees.
WYNJA COMPETING ON SPONSOR EXEMPTION
The story of Kate Wynja (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is well-documented and personifies the definition of both truth and character, so much so that Jack Nicklaus even took notice.
On Tuesday, June 5, the senior at Sioux Falls Christian won the South Dakota Class A State Golf Championship individual title, until she didn’t. As the scores were being tallied, Wynja realized she put herself down for a “4” instead of a “5” on the closing hole. Realizing her mistake, the now freshman at Northwestern College self-reported a scorecard violation.
“I remember talking to my grandma and how she was so happy because I did the right thing,” said Wynja. “That’s what I was always taught, but after it was crazy and awesome at the same time. So crazy.”
Her action quickly went viral, including a shoutout from The Golden Bear and live interview on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” The response on Twitter was also buzzing, from professional athletes to leaders in office.
Either way, the attention didn’t phase Wynja. The whole situation showcased how her upbringing shaped her into the type of young woman she is, never wavering for a second with the decision.
“I think it definitely does show that they did a great job,” Wynja said of her parents Carl and Lori. “There really was never a doubt and I hadn’t really thought about that until I was asked in interviews. There honestly really wasn’t.”
Even though she carded a 16-over 86 today, the experience alone is worth more than any score could be for Wynja when it comes to competing in the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge.
“Might not have played how I wanted or could have, but I had a lot of fun and the girls were nice,” said Wynja. “For sure learned a lot, they have a lot more focus than I do and more detail oriented, like where to put the ball and stuff like that.”
Immediately after her round, Wynja hopped in a small plane to Yankton to watch her team play in the Mount Marty Invitational, what would have been her first collegiate event. She’ll be back to tee it up tomorrow at 12:53 p.m. CT off No. 10 tee with playing partners Liz Nagel (DeWitt, Michigan) and Marissa Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii), looking to gain more insight and soak up every opportunity.
LINNEA STROM OPENING ROUND INTERVIEW