GREENWOOD, S.C. — In the first two starts of her Symetra Tour career at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa and the IOA Invitational, rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand) earned two top-10 finishes.
This week, she is right on her way to a third in her third start at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. The 18-year-old only surrendered one bogey, while carding five birdies, to shoot 4-under par 68 in the first round today at The Links at Stoney Point Golf Club.
“I give all the credit to my putting,” said Anannarukarn. “It was definitely a very tricky course on the greens. I just want to keep being patient on the green, everywhere. My putting was working very well today, so it helped me a lot.”
Following the solid performance with the flatstick and having her dad Veerapol on the bag, Anannarukarn will look to continue her consistent play tomorrow when she begins round two at 1:37 p.m. off No. 1 tee.
Until then, she will enjoy the 18-hole lead, but not stray from her gameplan.
“I’m really happy with the result, it was a great round,” Anannarukarn said. “I made mistakes in the last tournament and I’m trying to improve what I have to do. I hope to keep playing good, focusing on my game and being patient.”
Meanwhile, tied for second and just one shot back of Anannarukarn is Jessica Welch (Thomasville, Georgia) and Katelyn Sepmoree (Tyler, Texas). Each fired 3-under par 69 today, but also found that number in different ways. Welch used three birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on No. 8, while Sepmoree carded five birdies and two bogeys.
After missing the cut in Beaumont, Calif., at the IOA Championship and in Milton, Ga., at the IOA Invitational, Welch is elated to see her name near the top of the leaderboard.
“It feels really good to be where I’m at,” said Welch. “I’ve really struggled in the opening round over the last two events, so it’s a bit of a relief to start strong this week.”
A group of seven players sit at 2-under par to round out the top-10, with 28 total individuals at even par or better. However, this event is four rounds, instead of the typical three, so there is sure to be plenty of moving parts in the days ahead.
For the leader, she has an idea of what it will take to stay composed with an extra day of tournament play.
“Drink a lot of water, eat a lot and get some rest,” Anannarukarn said laughingly. “Just keep doing what I do.”
MCPHERSON ENJOYING PLAYING IN HOME STATE
A veteran in professional women’s golf, Kristy McPherson (Conway, S.C.) is soaking in the experience of being able to play in her home state this week at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
Furthermore, not only is the tournament essentially in her backyard, but just 80 miles from the University of South Carolina (USC), where McPherson starred collegiately.
“I love playing in South Carolina, it’s home to me,” said McPherson. “Great to see some Gamecock fans around, people actually know where Conway is. Most places I go, people always tell me I talk funny. Here, they understand ma’am and y’all. It’s nice to be home.”
A two-time Symetra Tour winner, to go along with 16 career top-10 finishes, McPherson is in the hunt going into round two at The Links at Stoney Point Golf Club. She used three birdies and two bogeys to card a 1-under par 71 today, good enough to sit in a tie for 11th with seven other players.
“It’s nice to have a solid day one,” McPherson said. “I didn’t get a practice round, so I was a little conservative and just wanted to get a feel for the course. You can’t win it on day one, but it’s nice to get a solid round in and be in a nice position.”
With experience on her side, the talk of how difficult the greens are won’t phase her. However, McPherson has taken notice of what it takes to find success in the putting game.
“You have to have patience on them for sure, and put yourself in the right position to give yourself a legit birdie opportunity,” said McPherson. “If you get out of position a little, you end up playing defense. You have to know when you can be aggressive on putts, and when to really just take your medicine and go. Uphill putts are welcome for the next 54 holes.”
McPherson will take that gameplan into the second round tomorrow when she starts at 12:31 p.m. off No. 10 tee.
CARR FINDING SUCCESS EARLY
On the golf course, she was known by her maiden name of Yadloczky until this season began and that’s when Carlie Carr (Casselberry, Florida) decided to shift gears and be recognized by her married name.
“I thought it would just be a change, maybe just a different name out there,” said Carr. “One, people can pronounce it; two, it’s up more near the top (alphabetically) anyway.
Coincidence then that, for the most part, she has started off hot in first rounds of tournament play this year? Perhaps.
Today, she fired 2-under par 70 and is tied for fourth heading into the second round of the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. Just last week in the IOA Invitational, she matched that score after the first round, but was tied for fifth.
“Today, I hit maybe every green but two. From there I just made a couple putts and didn’t have that many mistakes,” Carr said. “I’m not hitting perfect drives or perfect shots. Overall, just having better misses.”
However, it hasn’t been as steady as it seems for Carr.
After the 10th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, where Carr missed the cut, her mind started wandering to a dark place. So, the former University of Auburn standout started to see mental coach Bill Nelson, who actually worked with the Auburn women’s golf team.
“He’s helped me out a lot,” said Carr. “I’ve always struggled with some mental aspects of the game, but there was no way I should be doing that bad. Knowing what to ask yourself on the course and what to think about is way better than going out there blind.”
Since receiving Nelson’s help, that’s when Carr started noticing a difference.
“Honestly, my mental game is really helping me,” Carr said. “In Winter Haven, I was more worried about what my swing was looking like, technical stuff. Now, it’s about where I want to see my shots go. I am swinging more freely.”
Tomorrow, Carr gets round two started at 7:41 a.m. off No. 10 tee, looking to keep her mind focused and the score low.
Pajaree Anannarukarn Round Interview
Trending on Social