SANZ BARRIO PLAYING WITH PLENTY OF MOTIVATION
One of three players tied for the lead following a 7-under par 64 on day one of the IOA Golf Classic at Alaqua Country Club is Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain). The bogey-free showing marks a career-best opening round performance by the Auburn University alumna in her fourth year on the Symetra Tour.
Missing the cut in back-to-back starts at the Garden City Charity Classic and Guardian Championship has provided plenty of motivation for Sanz Barrio. She entered the week in Longwood, Fla. at No. 27 in the Volvik Race for the Card and $30,012 outside the top-10, which is the cutoff to automatically earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2020 season.
“Anything to get the card,” said Sanz Barrio, who hit 16 greens in regulation this afternoon. “I’m trying until it’s mathematically impossible and the numbers don’t work out. If I have to win the last two events, I’ll try to win both. I’m really motivated and really want to do well to see where I can go. Surprisingly, my irons are working since they didn’t last week. I played great and the putter is hot, so scored well.”
ANOTHER FAST START FOR POPOV
Joining Sanz Barrio atop the leaderboard for a share of the lead is Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany), who knows a thing or two about fast starts. Over her last four events including today, the University of Southern California alumna has shot 5-under par or better in the first round on three occasions.
Nonetheless, Popov captured top-10 finishes at each of the three previous stops with this week’s result in central Florida still to be determined across the next 36 holes. Having secured a total of seven top-10s this season through 11 tournaments played leaves Popov with one goal in mind at Alaqua Country Club.
“Another solid start and even had a double [bogey] in there, so lot of birdies,” said Popov. “Toward the end of the season you can get a little nervous and I tend to get a little passive with my shots, so I went at the pins and tried to play aggressive. What I learned from the last couple weeks is you don’t know what the conditions will be like tomorrow, or the pins. I’m staying patient, giving myself chances to hopefully, finally, get a win."
CLYBURN COMFORTABLE WITH SISTER ON BAG
The final individual part of the co-leader trio, Holly Clyburn (Cleethorpes, England) found her way to a 7-under par 64 in bogey-free fashion like Sanz Barrio. It also ties a season-best score to par, which she set in the first round of The CDPHP Open.
Meanwhile, younger sister India made the trek to Seminole County and is on the bag. A recent graduate of North Carolina State University, she helped Clyburn instill a deeper sense of confidence to lead to the low number today.
“It was nice out there, everything went really well and just found the right areas,” said Clyburn. “Putts dropped at the right time, so it was perfect. I feel so comfortable having somebody who knows my game as well as I do. I’m confident every shot that I try to hit and she’s putting that confidence back into me.”
Kristy McPherson (-5, T5) on playing the IOA Classic with surgery on the horizon:
“I really don’t have an objective to be honest right now. I pulled out of Q-School and am waiting on a surgery date. I didn’t know if I was playing this week, or not. Same goes for next week. I’m playing just to play golf. I’ll be going to Nashville as soon as they get me one. That’s why I wasn’t sure if I was going to play this week. If they had called on Wednesday and said get here Friday then I would’ve gone there, but they haven’t called yet. If I don’t get a date, I’ll play next week and get it done after. There’s no objective for the first time. I could go win-win, take a medical to have full status for next year, so maybe that’s my objective. My right hip has been bad for a long time, been in a lot of pain the last 4-5 years. I just can’t play against the best in the world being at less than 50 percent and swinging five mph slower than you’re supposed to. You can get away with it every now and then, but not at the highest level like that and continue to be in pain."
Perrine Delacour (-5, T5) on solid opening round as she chases Player of the Year honors:
“I want it really bad. I’m trying as hard as I can because Patty [Tavatanakit] is back and am sure she is looking for that title also, so I know I have to finish strong for the next two events. I already had a really good season, but want to finish well since I’ve struggled a little the last three or four tournaments. It is good to start like this and be back up on the leaderboard, hopefully get some confidence for next year.”
Min Lee (-5, T5) on her shift in mentality and how it helped on day one at Alaqua Country Club:
“The last few weeks, I’ve been trying so hard to play well and get my ranking up a little bit so I can skip Stage II. That gave me too much pressure about why I was worried about things in the future. This week, I am just playing golf and whatever happens is going to happen. I’m not trying to think about having to do something. I’m more relaxed, trying to get a good rhythm and having a better mentality.”
Marta Sanz Barrio
- Sanz Barrio, 27, is from Madrid, Spain
- Three-time All-SEC Second Team selection for Auburn University was also named to the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team
- Won the 2014 Ingaro Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series
- Finished T43 at the Final Stage of the 2014 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2015 LPGA Tour season
- Ladies European Tour (LET) member with more than 40 career starts, including a career-best showing of T6 at the 2015 ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open
- Represented native country at the 2018 Mediterranean Games, leading Spain to the team title and capturing individual gold medalist honors
- Total of 34 career starts on the Symetra Tour entering 2019 and became a first-time champion at the 2018 FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battle Creek Country Club
- Really big soccer fan and especially huge supporter of Real Madrid CF