by Adam Stanley
After a windy opening round at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout presented by JTBC just outside of Dallas, Texas, it was South Korea’s Mi Jung Hur who, after firing an opening round 6-under-par 65, leads a pack of eight golfers at 4-under-par including Michelle Wie and Ariya Jutanugarn.
Hur, who has only one top-10 finish in 2017 but sits 20th on the Race to the CME Globe, said her putter was the tool that prompted her to fire a bogey-free 65, saying she dropped a lot of putts and was “really satisfied” with her round Thursday.
Disaster nearly struck on the par-4 15th when she hit her tee-shot, with a hybrid, into the water. She was able to scramble for par, though, after nailing a long par-saving putt.
She said the unpredictable winds wrecked havoc on the players Thursday.
“The winds are swirling every hole, so it (gave) me a little bit of a headache,” she explained.
In the pack at 4-under-par is Ariya Jutanugarn, who was also bogey-free on the day.
“I hit the ball pretty good today. I just didn’t make a putt on the front nine, but I started making putts on the back nine,” she said, after birdieing three holes on her inward nine.
If she wins this week, and Lydia Ko finishes outside the top-seven, then Jutanugarn will jump ahead of Ko on top of the Rolex Rankings.
“I didn’t try to think about that,” she admitted. “I just feel like it’s more important for me to have fun and be happy on the course.”
Michelle Wie was able to shake off an early bogey and made four birdies on her back nine to also finish at 4-under-par along with Jutanugarn, South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park, Americans Sandra Changkija, Marina Alex, and Jennifer Song.
“I just had fun out there,” said Wie. “It was fun to play low in conditions like this. I was happy with where I positioned myself today, and hopefully I can go out there tomorrow morning and make some more birdies.”
Rounding out the eight women at 4-under is Australian Katherine Kirk, who notched a hole-in-one on the par-3 4th, her third in LPGA Tour tournaments.
“I hit it so well, so I bent down to pick up the tee, then (someone) in the group said, ‘get in the hole,’ and I’m like, ‘What?’ and it went in. I didn’t even see it, to be honest,” explained Kirk.
In her first round since the finale of the ANA Inspiration, Lexi Thompson returned with a 2-under-par 70, despite bogeying her opening hole.
“It was just good to get out and be playing again. The three weeks off it was a little hard, but I’m just so happy to be here and get back into competition,” she explained, admitting she was happy with what she shot today considering the high winds.
“All I’m focusing on is the tournament that I’m at right now here in Texas, going to Japan next week, and forgetting about it all. It’s time to move on,” Thompson said.
Just ahead of Thompson at 3-under-par is a logjam of nine golfers, and Thompson herself is tied with 13 others at 2-under, meaning we’re in for another Texas-sized shootout come Friday afternoon.