21 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |
Kyriacou's big finish puts her in contention
by Tony Webeck
A spectacular walk-off eagle by Stephanie Kyriacou on her final hole highlighted a strong opening day for the Aussie contingent at the Chevron Championship in Texas. Three of the six Australians in the field are inside the top 10 after day one at The Club at Carlton Woods, Kyriacou’s four-under 68 putting her within one stroke of Round 1 leader Peiyun Chien (67) in the first women's major of 2023. Making her major championship debut, Queenslander Karis Davidson (70) is two strokes back of Kyriacou in a tie for ninth, level with reigning US Women’s Open champion Minjee Lee who shrugged off limited preparation to also post two-under 70. Kiwi Lydia Ko is in a tie for 23rd after a round of one-under 71 but Hannah Green (75), Grace Kim (75) and Sarah Kemp (76) will require under-par rounds on Friday to advance to the weekend. Playing in the midst of rainy conditions that forced a suspension of play for around an hour, Kyriacou took advantage of the slightly softer greens before ending her round in remarkable fashion. Two-under par when she reached the par-5 18th hole, Kyriacou listened to the advice of her caddie prior to executing the 89-metre shot with her 54-degree wedge. “My caddie was just like, come on, you’ve got one more shot, try and stick it in there,” said the 22-year-old Sydneysider. “I was just trying to hit it close, to be honest, and then it went in. “I was a little bit shocked to be honest. I’ve never had a hole-out in a professional tournament, so I guess that was pretty cool.” Top-10 in two major championships in 2022, Kyriacou conceded that it has been a slower start to her 2023 campaign than she would have hoped. Last week’s tie for 38th at the Lotte Championship is her best LPGA Tour finish this year yet she showed commendable patience in piecing her round together on Thursday. Three straight birdies from the sixth hole was a productive period, her only bogey of the day coming at the par-4 10th. “I made a few good up-and-downs, holed a couple of long putts, stuck a few close. Today overall was just a good day of golf,” explained Kyriacou, a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour. “The course is, I think, pretty hard and it’s long. You need just to be patient out here, and pars on most holes are actually good out here. I’m really happy with how I played. “It’s only day one, so hopefully the rest of the week is as good as today.” Enjoying a confidence boost following her top-20 finish at the Lotte Championship, Davidson made three birdies in the space of four holes early in her round after starting from the 10th tee. Bogeys at 17 and one saw her fall back to one-over, responding with birdies at two and five to draw within two of the lead. A third bogey at the par-3 seventh dropped her back to two-under, two closing pars rounding out an impressive first round in a major. Uncharacteristically outside the top 50 in each of her two starts so far this season, Lee returned to the type of play that has delivered major wins each of the past two years. With long-time coach Ritchie Smith on the bag, Lee bounced back from a bogey on 11 with birdies at 12, 16 and 18 to turn in two-under par. A bogey on one was cancelled out with a birdie on two, a birdie on five followed by a bogey on six to put her within three of the lead at day’s end. Round 1 scores
T2 Stephanie Kyriacou (68) T9 Minjee Lee (70) T9 Karis Davidson (70) T81 Grace Kim (75) T81 Hannah Green (75) T98 Sarah Kemp (76) Leaderboard
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