DANIELSON LEADS THE WAY AFTER ROUND ONE
EL DORADO, Ark. — If how tough Mystic Creek Golf Course played was a secret before, it definitely isn’t now as a total of nine competitors shot in the red today, led by a 5-under par 67 from Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin) in just her sixth Symetra Tour start this season.
“It was a pretty solid round and I didn’t get into much trouble,” said Danielson, who recorded six birdies and only one bogey. “I think that is how you can make some birdies on this course, by playing really steady and being really patient because it is a really difficult golf course. I was definitely happy with my score today.”
Currently No. 42 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $21,018 earned through five events, Danielson puts herself in position to climb the rankings with a solid weekend. She has not missed a cut yet this season on the road to the LPGA Tour, capturing four top-10 finishes along the way with two being top-five results.
Even though she did not make her first appearance in 2018 on the official qualifying tour of the LPGA until the Island Resort Championship, the Stanford University alumna said it might have been to her advantage.
“I didn’t have a chance at the beginning of the season then I came out here really trying to do well, really trying to fight,” Danielson said. “You have to make a lot of birdies out here if you want to be close to the top and I have found a way to do that. I think I’ve played fresh and not playing a full season has me ready at this time of the year.”
Trailing the leader by one stroke heading into day two is a group of three individuals including Hyemin Kim (Seoul, Republic of Korea), Allison Emrey (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Louise Ridderström (Stocksund, Sweden).
The fourth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout marks just the fifth start for Emrey on the Symetra Tour this year. Meanwhile, she has competed in 10 LPGA events with her conditional status, but is set to compete in the four remaining Symetra Tour tournaments. Today’s score to par tied a season-best for the Wake Forest University graduate.
“There are some pins that you want to go for, some you don’t and I’m just trying to stay aggressive, but conservative at the same time,” Emrey said after carding seven birdies and three bogeys on the afternoon. “It has been a crazy year because I thought I would mostly play on the Symetra Tour, but made a cut on the LPGA so was able to play out there. I am trying to take what I learned back here and hopefully it pays off.”
Second round action picks up tomorrow morning at 7:15 a.m. CT with groups going off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. At the conclusion of 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 players and ties.
Danielson Opening Round Interview
KIM USES ACE TO JUMPSTART ROUND
One of the three players tied for second after the first round of the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, Hyemin Kim used an ace on her third hole of the day to jumpstart a 4-under par 68 performance.
The score was her best effort since the second round of the Forsyth Classic in June when Kim fired a 5-under par 67.
“I really enjoyed the course today, it’s always in nice shape and the greens are really tough,” said Kim, who found her way to four birdies and two bogeys in addition to the hole-in-one. “It felt like I hit it a little longer here than I did last year and that is pretty unique to score so well on this course, not on the others we play.”
Fireworks erupted on the par-3 12th when Kim launched her 7-iron into the crisp, blue Arkansas sky. Along with her playing partners, she watched it land softly, roll and find the bottom of the cup from 148 yards.
Her second hole-in-one in competition came on the heels of a near hole-out from the fairway on the par-4 11th.
“I actually hit the flag on the previous hole and tapped in birdie there,” Kim said. “Then on No. 12, I wasn’t sure if I needed to hit a 7- or 8-iron because it was still early morning so it might go shorter. I felt like I hit it a little thin, but you don’t need to hit a perfect shot for a hole-in-one I guess.”
Kim’s first ace was on No. 18 at Capital Hills at Albany in the 2016 Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY. This one might be a bit more special considering the level of difficulty.
“The greens are tough, so you have to hit it in a certain area and you have to be aware of certain areas,” said Kim. “You can’t just go for it like other courses where we just go for the flag, or other narrow spots. At this course we have to be careful every single shot.”
A second hole-in-one today came courtesy of Manuela Carbajo Re (Necochea, Argentina). She hit a 6-iron from 184 yards on the par-3 4th and ended the day at 5-over par.
HUFFER STARTS STRONG
A respectable showing of even par today in the first round of the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout leaves Becca Huffer (Denver, Colorado) in a tie for 10th entering the weekend at Mystic Creek Golf Course.
It was just the latest in a string of hot starts for Huffer, who has scored even par or better in 10 of her last 12 rounds played.
“I have been playing well and it’s always easier to start better, rather than have to play catch-up,” said Huffer, who carded a a 5-under par 31 going out and was tied for the lead when she made the turn this afternoon. “The last few tournaments it has worked out and I have been trying to keep that focus for the end of the season, so we’ll see what happens from here.”
While she began the day as hot as the southeastern Arkansas temperature, Huffer cooled down a bit and collected herself to shoot 5-over par 41 coming in. Even so, the even par score provided some lessons and has her eager to put it all together.
“A day like today helps to get some birdies because I obviously didn’t finish the round like I wanted to,” said Huffer, currently No. 17 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “I’m just going to focus on what I did on the front nine and do that the next two days. I have been playing well, but sometimes stuff happens and if you get in trouble once, it can add up.”