CLANTON PLAYS THROUGH INJURY
Four players sit tied for the lead of 5-under par in Harris, Mich. after 18 holes at the ninth annual Island Resort Championship including Cydney Clanton (Concord, North Carolina), Kristy McPherson (Conway, South Carolina), Stephanie Na (Adelaide, Australia) and Malene Krolboll Hansen (Hedeland Golfklub, Denmark).
The day started on a scary note for Clanton, as she squeezed in a workout before her afternoon tee time.
“I was running this morning and crossed the street paying attention to the car that was turning left so he knew I was going right,” Clanton said after a bogey-free opening round. “There was some uneven gravel and totally rolled my ankle really bad, the whole going down thing. It was more embarrassing, but I was thankful to get up and put pressure on it."
Despite the injury, the Auburn University alumna managed to compete and execute an outstanding performance. She received treatment from Alex Herzlin, the LPGA Physical Therapist for the Symetra Tour, which made a big difference in how her body reacted to the initial blow.
“Helped keep the inflammation down and taped it up, but I wasn’t really sure when I got to the driving range what I was going to be able to do,” said Clanton. “Hit a couple wedges and thought this could be different. On my first tee shot, kind of rolled it again and could tell I wasn’t in any extreme pain. That allowed me to ease into the round and hit more aggressive shots even with the ankle a little messed up. I knew I was going to attempt it only because I was able to hit pretty full shots. The swing still feels a little weird, not really getting my full range of motion. I didn’t know if I could do it, but was going to try.”
MCPHERSON SEARCHING FOR SPOT IN THE EVIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Following a tied for fourth result at the Island Resort Championship last year, Kristy McPherson picked up right where she left off with a bogey-free showing at Sweetgrass Golf Club today.
“I like this golf course,” McPherson said after recording five birdies in round one. “You have to control your iron shots into the greens, be able to use the slopes to get it close and make your misses in the right spot. It’s pretty generous off the tee, but you need to hit the right shot into the greens to have a chance to take it pretty low. Got lucky this morning that the wind didn’t get up until the last few holes.”
The 17-year veteran finished tied for 23rd at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status for the 2019 LPGA Tour season. She has made six starts on the big stage this year and is set to play in three of the next four LPGA Tour events, while also currently the third alternate for the next stop in Arkansas. Even with the opportunities in front of her, McPherson is taking advantage of the expanded field in the Upper Peninsula to hopefully play her way into the major.
“It has been a few years since I’ve played in Evian, so having this as the qualifier is a big reason why I’m here this week instead of taking time off,” said McPherson, who last played in The Evian Championship in 2014 with a tied for 54th showing. “I played well here last year and really liked that they made this the Evian qualifier. The No. 1 goal is getting back there, would love a great week and take care of it.”
TAVATANAKIT MAKING SYMETRA TOUR DEBUT
In her Symetra Tour debut, Patty Tavatanakit (Bangkok, Thailand) opened with a 2-under par 70 this afternoon and heads into the weekend tied for 28th at the Island Resort Championship.
“I wouldn’t say I played that well today, made a lot of mistakes and only hit 11 greens,” Tavatanakit said after finding an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys. “My putting saved me. I feel pretty confident, but at the same time it is my first tournament and want to keep focusing on my mental game. Playing in big events helped me stay calm and keep the round going. I felt like I was pretty calm and didn’t really get nervous at all. It feels like a college tournament again, playing three rounds and seeing all my friends. Not a lot of pressure, but definitely that next level of competition and I’m happy to be out here.”
One of the five players in the Golfweek Collegiate Rankings invited to the inaugural LPGA Q-Series, Tavatanakit finished tied for 84th last November to earn Symetra Tour status for 2019. Meanwhile, the two-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-American for UCLA made her professional debut at the U.S. Women’s Open from May 30-June 2 and ended tied for 34th. Now, she begins her career on the “Road to the LPGA” after two years with the Bruins.
“I changed my mind after seeing Lauren [Stephenson], Kristen [Gillman] and Lilia [Vu] on the LPGA Tour,” said Tavatanakit, who planned on spending at least three years in Los Angeles. “They made me realize how much time I need to put into golf.I’m trying to catch up with everyone, but I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself because it’s going to be hard. I know it’s not going to be easy, so I’m aiming for top-35 and get back to Q-Series this year. A bonus would be top-10, definitely in my mind but I’m not having high expectations since this is my first year as a professional and I need time to learn.”
Stephanie Na (-5, T1) on her first round at the Island Resort Championship:
“Got off to a really good start. Knocked it to like two feet on the first, so it was nice to start with a birdie there on No. 10, my first. Holed a really good putt, left to right slider and it was a good line. Then a good shot into the par-3, but caught the front fringe. Had a really good feel over my chip and it went in, so kind of a hot start. Tried to put myself in good position for opportunities and when I did, holed the putts. It has been nice to have some good rounds, but I just haven’t quite finished and capitalized on those rounds. I’m still learning every time I put myself in a good position and hopefully I can put what I’ve learned to a good tournament finish.”
Kristy McPherson (-5, T1) on playing with Patty Tavatanakit during her Symetra Tour debut:
“I early called her on the first hole because it was 280 to reach the bunker and I said, ‘You’re good.’ Get up there and she’s right in the middle of it. She definitely gets it out there and was only in school for two years, so she’s probably half my age. A lot of game, lot of talent, hits it a ton. With her dad on the bag, I think that made her more comfortable. After bogey on the first hole, chip-in for eagle on the second to get it right back. She took some lines off the tee ball that I wasn’t looking at, that’s for sure.”
Island Resort Championship tournament director Susan Harris on the Eagles for Charity program that donates $100 to both the player and U.P. Honor Flight charity after eight eagles were made on day one:
“The Eagles for Charity is really a committee effort and idea. We have done various charities throughout the nine years, but the last two have been for the U.P. Honor Flight because we love to honor all of our veterans—World War II, Vietnam, Korean. They go to Washington, D.C. for a day, see the monuments, it’s fabulous. The players seem to love this charity, they are excited about it and all our sponsors are very excited about it.”
- Clanton, 29, is a native of Concord, North Carolina
- Four-time All-SEC First Team performer for Auburn University
- Named the 2008 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) and SEC Freshman of the Year
- Two-time medalist for the Tigers at the 2009 Hooter’s Collegiate Match Play Championship and NCAA Fall Preview
- In 2010, won the North & South Women’s Amateur and was a member of the victorious Team USA at the Curtis Cup with a 2-0-1 record
- Two-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-American, as well as Second Team selection in senior campaign (2011)
- Finished T9 at the Final Stage of the 2011 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 11 status for the 2012 LPGA Tour season
- 2013 Symetra Tour graduate courtesy of four top-10 finishes including her first Symetra Tour win at the Four Winds Invitational to finish at No. 5 in the Volvik Race for the Card
- Since rookie year on the LPGA Tour in 2012 and entering 2019, total of 114 starts with four top-10 results and career-best showing of T7 in the 2014 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic
- Total of 33 starts on the Symetra Tour entering 2019 with 29 cuts made and 11 top-10s