The day did not start as Karen Chung (Livingston, New Jersey) hoped it would, finding herself 2-over through four holes. But the University of Southern California alumna is tied for the Island Resort Championship lead following a 7-under par 65 on day one in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The five-year Tour pro carded her season-best opening round, which included nine birdies and two bogeys.
“It feels amazing. I haven’t been in this position for so long,” said Chung. “Starting off the round today, I thought I was going to miss the cut because I was 2-over through four. I am happy with my finish, but to be completely honest with you, I was looking at my caddie and I told him we can go to Chicago after tomorrow. Then I was just whacking it around, putts started falling and I got super lucky today.”
Chung has finished in the top-10 on eleven different occasions over her Epson Tour career, two of which came earlier this season. Chung finished tied for sixth at the Epson Classic and tied for eighth at the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding. Additionally, she has not missed a cut in 2021.
“I really just had a lot of fun out there today. It has been a long time since I have done that. I was really worried coming into this week because two or three years ago at this tournament, I could not putt and I could not read the greens, but I guess I have learned or got a little better,” said Chung. “I definitely have way more confidence this year than previous years. I have learned so much. Losing my LPGA Tour card a couple of times was really a learning experience and you just get stronger from it.”
LEBLANC FINDS EARLY MOMENTUM AT SWEETGRASS GOLF CLUB
After 18 holes, Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Sherbrooke, Quebec) joins Chung atop the leaderboard at 7-under par in Harris, Mich., for the 10th annual Island Resort Championship. Only a three-putt on No. 16 held back Leblanc from a bogey-free round today.
“It feels pretty good considering I didn’t feel comfortable over the ball today for whatever reason, I just trusted the ball would go where I wanted it to and it did for the most part,” said Leblanc. “The whole day was solid, and I gave myself a lot of looks. I hit 17 greens today, so I didn’t have to save much. My only bogey was from a three-putt.”
Leblanc became a professional in 2014. Growing up in Canada, she found success during her amateur career from a vast array of experiences such as playing the Canadian Open. Her time competing in high profile events set her up for success as a professional. She owns 20 top-10 finishes on the Epson Tour and while Leblanc is still searching for her first win, she has tied for second twice this season.