DYE, GEORGE OUT FRONT THROUGH 18 HOLES IN ALABAMA
PRATTVILLE, Ala. — After day one of the second annual Guardian Championship, Kendall Dye (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Avery George (Perry, Georgia) sit tied atop the leaderboard thanks to bogey-free, 7-under par 65 rounds on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill of the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail.
The University of Oklahoma alumna and Middle Tennessee State University graduate take a one-stroke advantage into the weekend over Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Quebec City, Canada), another former member of the Sooners women’s golf program.
“Striped it off the tee, striped off the fairway, very nonchalant walk in the park minus the heat, kind of just survived,” said Dye, who hit 10 of 14 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. “I am happy with my start. You can go nasty low out here, so a few more days of opportunity for that.”
It was a wild week for Dye before arriving in the Yellowhammer State. She joined fellow Symetra Tour professionals Kristy McPherson (Conway, South Carolina) and Dori Carter (Valdosta, Georgia) in surprising their good friend and newly crowned LPGA Tour major champion Angela Stanford.
The group flew into Dallas on Tuesday morning after a Pro-Am event in Milwaukee on Monday following the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, showed up shortly after in Fort Worth at the home of the 2018 Evian Championship winner to celebrate and headed out to the 19th Symetra Tour stop on Wednesday afternoon. A change in routine seems to have helped Dye, as well as provide some inspiration.
“We had an awesome time and it worked out perfectly,” Dye said. “Some of her family and friends couldn’t make it, so it was fun to surprise her because the whole day was one after another surprises and people showing up along the way. It was just a huge celebration. She has always been my inspiration and one of my first memories was watching her on the LPGA.”
Meanwhile, where George currently resides is the Peach State, but she was born and raised in Mobile, Ala., so there’s a little bit of home cooking for her in Prattville.
“I have always called Alabama home,” said George, who only recorded 27 putts today. “This course sets up pretty well for me. I am not one to go out on a course that is dead straight, I like working the ball and every tee shot out here is kind of blind. The trust with the aim spots is what works for me. The fact that it is one of the longer golf courses we play I think also helps.”
Currently No. 181 in the Volvik Race for the Card and having missed the cut at the First Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, if the season ended today, George would not have status on the Symetra Tour next year. That simple fact alone allowed her to play free and without anything to lose.
“I think that’s a lot of the reason why I played so well because I don’t have any expectations and am usually very hard on myself,” George said. “Practicing so hard and not getting the results that I feel like I should be getting has been my downfall all season. Being back home, I am going to enjoy it regardless of what I shoot.”
A total of 62 players are at even par or better after the first round. Action gets underway in round two at 7 a.m. CT tomorrow with groups heading off No. 1 and No. 10 tees.
TANGUAY USING STARTS TO PREPARE FOR Q-SERIES
A 2017 Symetra Tour graduate, Anne-Catherine Tanguay is competing in her second event on the official qualifying tour of the LPGA this season to prepare herself for Q-Series from Oct. 22 through Nov. 3 at Pinehurst Resort.
The 2018 LPGA rookie signed a bogey-free, 6-under par 66 scorecard today and is currently solo third, just one shot back of the lead. She said competing with playing partner Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii)—who went 5-under par and is currently No. 10 in the Volvik Race for the Card—only enhanced the round for her.
“I think I gave myself a lot of chances and Stephanie was playing really well, especially on the front nine she kept hitting it inside me,” said Tanguay, who is No. 126 on the LPGA Tour official money list. “It was a lot of fun to play with her and even though I made a lot of good shots some putts didn’t go in, but I at least knew on the next one I could do better and I applied that well today. It’s really nice to be back out with the Symetra Tour.”
In her first season on the LPGA, Tanguay started to find her stride in the second half of the year. The ups and downs provided a good learning experience and showed her how she can succeed going forward.
“It was really great and I learned so much, like what not to do and then readjust,” Tanguay said. “I had a pretty rough first half of the season. I wasn’t myself and when you have that pressure take over, you can lose yourself. It took me a while, but then I found myself again on and off the golf course, probably halfway through the season and had a strong finish.”
She made the cut in six of her last seven events on the big stage, including a season-best tied for 16th finish at the Cambia Portland Classic last month. Now enjoying a quick pit stop on the Symetra Tour, Tanguay is hoping to stay in game shape and get ready for the test that will be Q-Series.
“I can come out and try my game, this week and last week are such great golf courses, a good challenge,” said Tanguay, who posted a tied for 17th result at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. “I think Q-Series is a really great idea and they set it up well to measure and compare. I think it is going to give a better sample of really, really strong players and I love that it’s two weeks on two different courses.”
CHOI HEATING UP AT RIGHT TIME
Down to the final three events on the 2018 Symetra Tour calendar, Sandy Choi (Seoul, Republic of Korea) is finding the right time to catch fire with her golf game.
Over the last six tournaments, the rookie has made the cut in five of them and is coming off a season-best tied for sixth result in the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. Through 18 total starts this year, the former Duke University standout is No. 73 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $11,735 earned.
“Last week was a huge confidence boost and I honestly thought I could have played even better in the last round,” said Choi. “There is always room for improvement, so heading into this week I knew I had the game. This course isn’t easy, but I’m just trying to be consistent, finding fairways and greens.”
It wasn’t smooth sailing for Choi all season. She missed the cut in eight of her first 10 starts, but eventually turned the corner. For much of the first half of the year she was working on gaining distance off the tee.
Needless to say, she found some. Heading into the weekend at Capitol Hill, Choi is tied for fourth with Stephanie Kono at 5-under par.
"I am a pretty good ball striker, but I just couldn’t hit the ball very well in the beginning of the season through my swing changes,” Choi said. “I didn’t feel ready, but had gained the distance although it wasn’t very accurate. Starting around the Donald Ross Classic in French Lick, it started to feel better and I’m playing like I used to back in college.”
KENDALL DYE'S OPENING ROUND INTERVIEW