THREE TIED FOR LEAD AFTER OPENING ROUND OF SKYiGOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
With 18 holes complete at the inaugural SKYiGOLF Championship, three players sit tied for the lead of 5-under par including Jillian Hollis (Rocky River, Ohio), Lauren Kim (Los Altos, California) and Jessy Tang (Orlando, Florida).
For most of the last two seasons, Tang has played on the LPGA Tour. Now that she is back on the Symetra Tour, there is one objective she hopes to maintain in order to get back to the big stage.
“Consistency is key,” said Tang, who fired a bogey-free 67. “After being on the LPGA Tour last year and really struggling, I had to reevaluate my whole game. To come out in the first round and do what I wanted to do—stay consistent—I’m really happy with that.”
For Hollis, the offseason provided enough of a break to reset and chance to stay away from the course. However, once it was time to get back on the grind, she moved forward with a purpose.
“I took a little bit of time off then worked with my coach in January and been practicing really hard since,” Hollis said. “After stepping away for a while, I started to focus on my swing and then short game. There’s no secret thing that I did, just believed in myself today and did it.”
LAUREN KIM FEELING RIGHT AT HOME
The backdrop this week at Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club at Bobcat Trail has Lauren Kim feeling right at home.
Before tournament action got underway today, she played a practice round with former Stanford University teammate Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin). They are also paired together for the first two rounds.
Furthermore, Kim finds comfort in how her game stacks up against the field for the season opener. Last year, she became a first-time Symetra Tour champion at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. That event was the first on the 2018 calendar.
“I just start the year with a fresh mentality coming from the offseason because I love being home, I love the lifestyle, how relaxed it is,” Kim said. “I came to this tournament and it’s funny because it took us back to college. I forgot my range finder, but Casey had one. Same thing with sunscreen and I was using her bag for the practice round until my caddy got in town. Everything is new and I have a renewed perspective on things.”
SPONSOR EXEMPTION PANO RIGHT IN THE MIX
There’s really nothing that can phase 14-year-old Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Florida) even when she is the lone amateur and youngest competitor teeing it up against a field of 131 professionals.
As a tournament sponsor exemption, she casually fired a 3-under par 69 this afternoon. Just last week, Pano defended her Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship crown, coasting to a 12-shot victory. The 7-under par 209 total score easily bested her own tournament record of 218. In the two years Pano has competed in the event, she has been the leader at the end of all six rounds she has played.
“My dad and I like to do back-to-back events at some points in the season because if you have a good event, the momentum can always help you into the next,” said Pano. “I had a lot of bad breaks today with club decisions, especially on the front nine I just couldn’t judge the wind. My short game stayed really consistent throughout the whole day and got some putts to go in on the back nine.”
Alana Uriell (-2, T10) on most challenging part of Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club at Bobcat Trail:
“The par-5s have really good defense on their greens and make it tough to get to where they put the pins. There’s a lot of tiers, lot of movement. As the day progresses, they get quick and you see some pretty difficult putts.”
Cheyenne Knight (-3, T5) on biggest improvement entering her second year as a professional:
“My course management has been a lot better. I’ve definitely learned how to score better and that is all it’s about, how you get the ball in the hole. I’ve worked a lot on my wedges and trying to dial that in since last year. I love playing tournament golf and I’ve been working on my mental game too.”
Brenda Gonzalez (+9, T126) on hitting the first tee shot of the 2019 season:
“It was exciting because it was also my first Symetra Tour event, it’s my rookie year. I felt a lot of adrenaline and managed to hit a good drive.”
- Hollis, 21, is from Rocky River, Ohio
- Made her professional debut at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open
- Spent three years at the University of Georgia and was a three-time All-American
- Two-time All-SEC Second Team selection before being named to the First Team in 2018
- Competed in the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, as well as the 2016 and 2018 Marathon Classic on the LPGA Tour
- Made the cut in eight of 12 starts in her rookie campaign on the Symetra Tour last season
- Lost in a sudden-death playoff in her Symetra Tour debut at the 2018 Forsyth Classic
- Kim, 24, is a native of Los Altos, California
- Led Stanford University to the program’s first NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship title in 2015
- Named the 2016 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport of women’s golf as a senior
- Three-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-American for the Cardinal and two-time All-Pac 12 First Team selection
- Finished T29 at the Final Stage of the 2016 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2017 LPGA Tour season
- Rookie on both the Symetra Tour and LPGA Tour in 2017 where she made 20 and two starts, respectively
- Finished T45 at the Final Stage of the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2018 LPGA Tour season
- Competed in 14 LPGA Tour events during the 2018 season with a best result of T17 at the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
- Made the cut in all seven Symetra Tour starts last year and become a first-time winner at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic
- Finished T23 at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status for the 2019 LPGA Tour season
- Tang, 30, is a native of Orlando, Florida
- Winner of the 2007 Thailand Amateur Ladies Golf Association Championship
- In 2008, named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year for the University of Central Florida and was also a All-Conference USA Second Team selection
- Finished T35 at the Final Stage of the 2016 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2017 LPGA Tour season
- Made eight starts on the LPGA Tour in 2017 as a rookie
- Finished T16 at the Final Stage of the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 12 status for the 2018 LPGA Tour season
- Entering 2019, total of 105 starts on the Symetra Tour since rookie year in 2010 with a career-best T7 finish at the 2012 Riviera Nayarit Classic