The sun was shining, temperature in the low 80s, winds light — an absolutely perfect day for a round of golf in Phoenix. The Wildfire Golf Club at the Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa was in premier condition. What fabulous conditions for the opening round at the JTBC Founders Cup. Lydia Ko led for a while, early in the day, and went to the clubhouse at -5. Then Morgan Pressel got hot, fired a string of four birdies and then an eagle, made the turn at -7, fired off two more birdies and looked like she couldn’t be caught until she sent a shot out into the desert, lost her momentum, gave back two strokes, and finished the day at -7. Then along came rookie Mirim Lee who teed off late in the day, played steady birdie golf, carded -8, and will get to sleep on the lead.
The Leader: Mirim Lee
South Korean Mirim Lee may be an LPGA rookie but she’s no stranger to pro golf. Lee turned pro in 2009 and played first on the KLPGA developmental tour, then on the KLPGA from 2010-2013. She has three KLPGA victories on her resume. Last year she finished runner-up at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, breaking the tournament scoring record with a 61 in the third round, and earned Priority List Category 12 for the 2014 LPGA Tour season.
Lee played some impressive golf today. She averaged 286 yards on her drives, hit 13 out of 14 fairways, and made her way around the course with only 26 putts.
The Top-10 Leaders
Rolex Ranked No. 35 Morgan Pressel will start the second round at the Founders Cup one stroke off the lead. Pressel’s been playing strong golf. She finished the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in an 11th place tie, then followed that with a T6th place finish at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and a T4th place finish at the HSBC Womens Champions.
If Pressel can sort out what went wrong for her today, and it it looked to me like what went wrong was between her ears, she could easily reclaim the top of the board tomorrow. With 22 putts, she can’t lose a putting contest.
Eight players will start the second round at -6, trailing Mirim Lee’s lead by two strokes: Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb, Pernilla Lindberg, Michelle Wie, Eun-Hee Ji, Catriona Matthew, Inbee Park, and Gerina Piller. Some are hunting their first victory, some are looking to add another win to an already impressive resume, and Lewis is defending her title. Every one of them is capable of firing off a round of golf that will send her to the top of the board and make our heads spin, so expect the 2nd round to be action-packed!
Rolex Ranked No. 3 and America’s top golfer, Stacy Lewis, carded 66 today. She’s going into the second round in an 8-way tie for third place.
Rolex Ranked No. 24 Azahara Munoz carded 68 today. She’s going into the second round trailing the lead by four strokes, along with fifteen other players.
Rolex Ranked No. 63 Brittany Lang had a rough day. Her long game wasn’t working effectively so although she played her round with 28 putts, she carded even par and is going into the second round below the projected cut line, -1.
Rolex Ranked No. 167 Vicky Hurst had an even rougher day. She carded 78 and is going into the second round at +6, well below the projected cut line. Hurst is going to need a miracle to play the weekend.
Second Round Coverage
The Founders, installed in comfy wicker chairs off the 18th green, were greeting and receiving hugs and kisses like beloved grandmothers fondly watching the women who are following in their footsteps play the game we all love in fine athletic form. Who could ask for anything more from a round of golf? Another round, of course.
Second round tee times begin at 7am local time and Golf Channel coverage begins Friday, March 21 at 6:30pm ET. I’ll be back tomorrow evening as well.