LLANEZA FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
Seven birdies from Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) in the first round of the Garden City Charity Classic led to a 5-under par 67 and the 18-hole advantage at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
Highlights included a bogey-free, 4-under par 32 going out with three straight birdies coming in to cap the day one performance. The mark also ties a season-best score to par, which Llaneza set in the final round of the Island Resort Championship.
“A lot of things were going right, one of those days where I stayed calm and patient,” said Llaneza, who has missed out on the weekend in eight of her last nine starts. “I had good feels with my long swing and the putter, luckily able to keep it going on the front nine. Happy to end with three birdies and definitely gives me confidence. It was important to shoot a good number today. The wind died down on the back nine which was surprising, but a good surprise. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.”
GOALS IN SIGHT FOR FERNANDEZ CANO
Even though she missed the cut in five of the first six events this season, goals are still in sight for Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and continue to gain steam following a 4-under par 68 in Garden City, Kan. this afternoon.
“It was a bit windy, but I was able to manage out there,” said Fernandez Cano. “I know it is supposed to be worse tomorrow, so I told myself to get a head start and take advantage of the early tee time.”
Currently ranked No. 24 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $39,333 total season earnings, the alumna of Troy University has secured 11 consecutive top-25 finishes since the bumpy start to her Symetra Tour sophomore campaign. With only four tournaments left on the schedule, she realizes now is the time to put her foot on the gas.
“Every shot counts always, but especially now that we are getting toward the end of the season and I’m in the mix,” Fernandez Cano said. “One of my goals coming into the season and after missing a few cuts early, was to get top-35 and go straight to Q-Series. I want to finish the year on a high note, meet that goal and am really looking for a win. I’ve been close and just need to learn how to close them out.”
O’DONNELL GETS OUT FRONT OF THE WINDS
Joining the list of five players at 4-under par and one shot back of the lead after 18 holes is University of North Carolina graduate Catherine O’Donnell (Ponte Vedra, Florida).
The opening round performance marks the best showing for O’Donnell since she fired the same score in the second round of the 2017 Tullymore Classic. She discussed how crucial the bogey-free day was given the conditions that can arise in western Kansas.
“It was really nice to play this morning with no wind for probably four or five holes and get off to a good start because you never know what is going to happen in Garden City,” said O’Donnell, who owns a best finish at this event of tied for 22nd in 2017. “It can be pretty mild, then two holes later you’ll have three-club wind. The forecast called for it to blow 10-12 mph, but there was definitely gusts more than that.”
PARRA REBOUNDS NICELY
Coming off just her second missed cut of the season, Maria Parra (Guadiaro, Spain) bounced back with a strong day one effort of 4-under par 68. It included a bogey-free, 4-under par 32 on the front nine after she opened play on No. 10.
“I played good, hit nine fairways with only one bogey and 29 putts,” said Parra, the 2019 IOA Invitational champion. “Hit some pretty good shots into greens and am happy with the round. I’m putting solid and striking my irons well with lots of good recovery when needed. I played bad last week in Sioux Falls, so I am more confident after today. Just need to hit more fairways and do the rest like today.”
Jenny Coleman (-4, T2) on bogey-free opening round and being No. 10 in Volvik Race for the Card:
“It feels good to start the first round strong. Driver was a little loose early, but then got it back and iron shots were pretty sharp all day. On my back nine, started to get firmer and found myself a little further away from the hole. Just a nice, clean round with four birdies and no bogeys. Every week is important now and it would be great to play super well early then cruise more at the end, but you need to fight all the way because anything can happen.”
Liz Nagel (-3, T7) on being a cancer survivor and what it means to play professional golf for a living:
“I’ve been playing pretty solid and then last week felt really out of it, oddly enough I think it might have been a bad thyroid week for me and now Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month rolls around. That is life and puts it all in perspective because I fight with it every day. We love coming here, and with Allyssa winning last year there’s lot of happy memories. Playing a little bit for her and it was a solid day, nothing crazy.”
Lori Beth Adams (-3, T7) on shooting even or under par for a 12th straight round on the Symetra Tour:
“I have been playing solid golf the last several tournaments, finally going out there carefree. Been really working hard on my putting and starting to feel comfortable over my putts. I have also been hitting the ball well all season. It really was just a matter of waiting for the putts to fall and hopefully they will keep doing so.”