Stephanie Meadow had a hole-in-one – which, as the first of the season on the LPGA Tour brought with it a $20,000 donation to a children's hospital – and Leona Maguire opened with a fine six-under-par par 66 to jump right into contention in the Drive On Championship in Fort Myers, Florida, to make it a doubly good day for the two Irish players in the field.
Meadow’s ace, the first of her LPGA Tour career, came with a perfectly flighted six-iron on the 14th hole – her fifth – of the first round and earned a donation by CME Group to St Jude’s hospital.
"It's a lot of money and can help someone. Who knows who it will help, but I know it will help a very important person. I'm just thankful that my great shot can benefit somebody's life," said the Northern Irishwoman, who signed for a first round 73 that left her eight shots adrift of first round leaders Marina Alex and Nasa Hataoka.
“I had perfect number, a little 6-iron. It was a little bit windy, and I stripped it right at it. Wind never touched it and just rolled right up there into the hole. It’s been a while since the I had a hole-in-one and it’s the first one in my LPGA career, in a tournament, so, yeah, it’s very nice,” said Meadow, who nevertheless has work to do to make the cut.
As if to show that the golfing gods can take as well as give, Meadow’s approach to the 16th got a wicked ricochet off a greenside sprinkler head which saw her ball diverted 30 yards away into a water hazard for one of four bogeys on her card, while her lone birdie came on the par-five 12th.
Maguire’s round – to lie just one behind Alex and Hataoka – featured some superb iron play and putting, claiming eight birdies along with two bogeys to get straight into the mix at the Crown Colony Golf & Country Club.
Having started on the 10th, Maguire turned in 34 (two under) but a dropped shot at the first seemed to kick her into life. There followed a wonderful run, of five birdies in six holes from the fourth hole to come home in 32 strokes for a 66.
A week off did Séamus Power the world of good, as the Waterford golfer – currently ranked 50th in the world and with a debut appearance in the Masters in his sights – resumed tournament play with a flawless, bogey-free round of eight-under-par 64 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that immediately put him among the title contenders.
In a tournament played over three courses for the opening three rounds – Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill – Power’s round, which saw him finish with four straight birdies at Spyglass Hill, moved him to within a stroke of Tom Hoge, who had a sequence of six straight birdies in recording a 63 at Pebble Beach.
“It was a great finish, because it is a funny old course, “ remarked Power of his 64 at Spyglass Hill, traditionally seen as the toughest of the courses on the rota. “I just kind of clicked coming in . . . I know this place always plays the hardest, [but] it kind of suits my eye and game feels in good shape, so I was like, ‘why not?’”
Power added: “Having no bogeys is always nice. I chipped and putted very well, hit a couple of poor shots early and got away with them and it kind of set me up for a great round. It’s always funny with the three courses, obviously it’s great to have a good start but you’re on to a completely different challenge. Tomorrow I’m playing Pebble at 8.40 and it’s going to be a completely different course to today. So kind of makes it easier to reset and so hopefully we can kind of keep doing the same thing.”
Having taken a week off after his tied-14th place finish in the American Express, Power returned to action in fine fettle with his birdie blitz – from the sixth to the ninth, his closing four holes – enabling him to move to within a shot of first round leader Hoge.
John Murphy, on his PGA Tour debut, had a rather more difficult time in recording a round of 75, three over, also at Spyglass Hill.
On the DP World Tour, Scotland's Scott Jamieson maintained his strong start to the season in opening with a 65 to share the first-round lead with Germany's Sebastian Heisele in the Ras al Khaimah Championship at Al Hamra.
Pádraig Harrington had a terrible start – “a breakfast ball (mulligan) was needed off my first tee this morning. No fun having to hit three off your first tee of the day,” tweeted the 50-year-old Dubliner – but he recovered to shot a three-under-par 69 to lie in tied-17th place.
Harrington was the best of the three Irishmen in the field, with Tom McKibbin – playing on a sponsor's invitation – opening with a 71, one under, and Jonathan Caldwell also signing for a 71 (tied-44th).
Matteo Manassero shot a superb eight-under-par bogey-free round 62 to claim the first round lead in the Saudi International at King Abdullah Economic City on the Asian Tour, to claim a two-stroke lead over the chasing group of Sam Horsfield, Adri Arnaus, Ryosuke Kinoshita, Bubba Watson and Harold Varner III.
The 28-year-old Italian’s last win came in the 2013 BMW PGA Championship and he has been mainly playing on the Challenge Tour and Alps Tour in recent season.
Dustin Johnson, seeking a third title win in the event, opened with a strong 65, five under.
Shane Lowry proved to be the best of the Irish trio in the tournament, the opening event of the Asian Tour. Lowry carded three-under-par 67, while former champion Graeme McDowell signed for a 73 (three over) and Cormac Sharvin a 74.
LPGA Tour Drive On Championship
Fort Myers, Florida – USA unless stated, par 72
65 Nasa Hataoka (Jpn), Marina Alex
66 Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Tha), Leona Maguire (Irl), Linnea Johansson (Swe)
67 Jeon-Geun Lee (Kor), Madelene Sagstroem (Swe), Caroline Masson (Ger), Charley Hull (Eng), Bronte Law (Eng), Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Can)
68 Ryann O'Toole, Megan Khang, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den), Su-Hyun Oh (Aus), Brittany Altomare, Stacy Lewis, Xiyu Lin (Chn), Giulia Molinaro (Ita), Hee-Young Park (Kor), Yae-Eun Hong (Kor)
69 Alexis Thompson, Ally Ewing, Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha), Sarah Schmelzel, Alison Lee, Pernilla Lindberg (Swe), Sophia Schubert, Marissa Steen, Ana Belac (Slo), Annie Park, Dewi Weber (Ned)
70 Ind-Bee Park (Kor), Celine Boutier (Fra), Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha), Ind-Gee Chun (Kor), Georgia Hall (Eng), Austin Ernst, Amy Yang (Kor), Amy Olson, Jeong-Eun Lee (Kor), Cydney Clanton, Cheyenne Knight, Rachel Rohanna, Pauline Bouchard (Fra), Ayaka Furue (Jpn), Bianca Pagdanganan (Phi), Allisen Corpuz, Jennifer Chang
71 Brooke Henderson (Can), Lindsey Weaver-Wright, Cristie Kerr, Lilia Vut, Ruixin Liu (Chn), Paula Reto (Rsa), Nam-Rin Ant (Kor), Atthaya Thitikul (Tha), Hye-Jin Choi (Kor), Kelly Tan (Mal), Isabell Gabsa (Ger), Andrea Lee
72 Nelly Korda, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha), Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha), Mina Harigae, A-Lim Kim (Kor), Lauren Stephenson, Wichanee Meechai (Tha), Carlota Ciganda (Esp), Jennifer Coleman, Ashleigh Buhai (Rsa), Aditi Ashok (Ind), Mi-Rim Lee (Kor), Hae-Ji Kang (Kor), Katherine Kirk (Aus), Jodi Ewart (Eng), Dana Finkelstein, Janie Jackson, Katherine Perry, Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den), Agathe Laisne (Fra), Gemma Dryburgh (Sco), Frida Kinhult (Swe)
73 Gaby Lopez (Mex), Yu Liu (Chn), Perrine Delacour (Fra), Albane Valenzuela (Swi), Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha), Lauren Coughlin, Stephanie Meadow (NIrl), Alana Uriell
74 Jennifer Kupcho, Yealimi Noh, Esther Henseleit (Ger), Jenny Shin (Kor), Sophia Popov (Ger), Sarah Kemp (Aus), Fatima Fernandez (Esp), Allison Emrey, Gerina Piller, Muni He (Chn), Peiyun Chien (Tai)
75 Laura Davies (Eng), Melissa Reid (Eng), Morgane Metraux (Swi), Maria Fassi (Mex), Christina Kim
76 Jaye Marie Green, Jennifer Song, Amanda Doherty, Lauren Kim
77 Yuka Saso (Jpn), Angela Stanford, Casey Danielson
79 Nam-Yeon Choi (Kor)
81 Angel Yin
DP World Tour Ras al Khaimah Championship
Al Hamra GC, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE – British and Irish unless stated, par 72
65 Scott Jamieson, Sebastian Heisele (Ger)
66 Brandon Stone (Rsa),
66 Johannes Veerman (USA), Thomas Detry (Bel), David Law
67 Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den), Matthew Southgate
68 Shaun Norris (Rsa), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), James Morrison, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), George Coetzee (Rsa), Hurly Long (Ger), Daan Huizing (Ned)
69 Danny Willett, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Thriston Lawrence (Rsa), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Jeff Winther (Den), Grant Forrest, Ignacio Elvira (Esp), Marcus Armitage, Pádraig Harrington, Robert MacIntyre, Alexander Levy (Fra), Matthew Jordan, Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Richard Sterne (Rsa), Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (Esp), Marcel Schneider (Ger), Craig Howie, Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
70 Chris Wood, John Catlin (USA), Adrian Meronk (Pol), Francesco Laporta (Ita), Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Ross Fisher, Oliver Bekker (Rsa), Lukas Nemecz (Aut)
71 Richard Bland, Sami Valimaki (Fin), Steven Brown, Jonathan Caldwell, Tom McKibbin, Richard Mansell, Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Jordan Smith, Kalle Samooja (Fin), David Horsey, Ryan Fox (Nzl), Nino Bertasio (Ita), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Callum Shinkwin, Connor Syme, Justin Walters (Rsa), Nicolai von Dellingshausen (Ger), Julien Brun (Fra), Yannik Paul (Ger), Marcel Siem (Ger), Niklas Noergaard Moeller (Den), Oliver Farr
72 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Andrea Pavan (Ita), Alexander Bjoerk (Swe), Jamie Donaldson, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Dale Whitnell, Darren Fichardt (Rsa), David Drysdale, Espen Kofstad (Nor), Oliver Wilson, Zander Lombard (Rsa), Ricardo Santos (Por), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita)
73 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe), Kristoffer Broberg (Swe), Daniel van Tonder (Rsa), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Richie Ramsay, Wil Besseling (Ned), Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Romain Langasque (Fra), Matthias Schmid (Ger), Sebastian Garcia (Esp), Santiago Tarrio (Esp), Frederic Lacroix (Fra), Hugo Leon (Chi), Andrew Wilson, Joel Stalter (Fra)
74 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Haotong Li (Chn), Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn (Den), Soeren Kjeldsen (Den), Marcus Helligkilde (Den), Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Ashley Chesters, Richard McEvoy, Aaron Cockerill (Can), Niklas Lemke (Swe)
75 Antoine Rozner (Fra), Angel Hidalgo (Esp), Chris Paisley, Chase Hanna (USA), Renato Paratore (Ita), Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Graeme Storm
76 Jorge Campillo (Esp), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Eddie Pepperell, Ross McGowan
77 David Howell, Ahmed Skaik (UAE), Marc Warren, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa)
78 Issa Abou El Ela (Egy), Alvaro Quiros (Esp)
79 Darius van Driel (Ned), Joel Sjoeholm (Swe)
81 Monty Scowsill, Ahmed Alb Musharrekh (UAE)
83 Jack Singh-Brar