FLORIDA STATE UNVERISTY ALUMNA DOHERTY CARDS 6-UNDER 65
Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) is tied for the lead following a 6-under par 65 on day one of the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding. The second-year rookie on the “Road to the LPGA” carded her career-best opening round, which included five birdies, a bogey and an eagle.
“The tee was moved where it was from the practice rounds. I knew it could be over there but it was where it was last year, so I went with the same line I had then,” Doherty said of No. 16. “I hit some good shots and made a good putt, I was probably about 210 yards out, so not super long. Thankfully I hit a good drive to put myself in that position.”
Doherty came into the week fresh off two top-10 finishes. Last year at Alaqua Country Club, Doherty shared fifth place with Bailey Tardy, Dewi Weber and 2020 Epson Tour Player of the Year Ana Belac.
“I have been playing well the last couple of weeks and I played well here last year, so I knew I could play well, but there are a lot of expectations too,” said Doherty. “There are a couple holes out there that I don’t really love and that didn’t change much from last year. There are also some holes out here though that I do think really fit my eye, so I am trying to attack those this week.”
The Florida State University alumna was a two-time team captain for the Seminoles and earned All-American Honorable Mention honors from Golfweek in 2018 and 2020. She competed at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019, finishing in a tie for 21st. Coming back to not only Alaqua but Florida in general, is something familiar for this former Seminole.
“Atlanta courses are somewhat similar. The grass is all kind of the same, the layout is different but it definitely helps having played around a lot of water. Maybe not our home course as much, but other courses we played throughout the year definitely helped,” Doherty said. “My coaches were so great, they really helped me in all aspects from short game to course management. It all helped me get here.”
MACLAREN TIED FOR THE LEAD AFTER 18 HOLE
Joining Doherty at 6-under 65, Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough, England) goes into round two tied for the lead. After missing the cut last week at the Epson Classic, MacLaren was unsure what this week might look like, but after seven birdies and one bogey, she is feeling good headed into moving day.
“It was pretty straight forward for me today. I think I only missed one green, had a little bit of stress there on the last hole. My tee shot went into the bunker, but honestly beyond that, I hit it really solid,” said MacLaren.
This is MacLaren’s first appearance at Alaqua Country Club and her 18th start on the Epson Tour since 2017. Although she hasn’t played this course, her experience at Florida International University set her up for great success in knowing the type of course and grass she would compete on this week.
“I spend quite a lot of time in Florida when I am in the States, so I always feel comfortable here. I know what the grass is like and how to read the grain on the greens I think is a big thing,” said MacLaren. “I know this particular area quite well, so even though I hadn’t seen the course, I think that made me feel a bit more comfortable going into the week.”
THAMMARAKS INSPIRED BY FRIENDS IN 2021
In her sixth start this season, Prima Thammaraks (Bangkok, Thailand), carded a bogey free, 5-under 66 for the first round in Longwood, Fla. to put herself one stroke back of the lead heading into moving day.
“I think the par save on No. 17 today was crucial and I hit one bad drive on No. 3, but it stayed in play and I made par from that, so I think those two holes really helped keep my momentum going today. All day I played really solid though, and I made really good decisions,” said Thammaraks.
Last year, Thammaraks took a break from the Epson Tour due to COVID-19. She returned this year at the beginning of the season, hoping to get back into the swing of things. After missing two cuts, she found her rhythm at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic and claimed a share of 16th. She has made one more cut in three starts since.
“I still feel like there is a long way to go. If you asked me, I would say I feel like we are just starting. For me, it’s about playing well at the right time. I didn’t want to come out and peak right away. I know that would be ideal, but I knew coming off last year that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Thammaraks. “I knew I had to be patient with myself and how the tournaments run out here. It is really hard to keep yourself focused, but I feel like I have done really well at that, and I am excited to just be out here in general, which I feel like really helps my game.”
Thammaraks has also looked to her friends for help. Most recently, she spent 18 holes riding around with the PGA TOUR’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. He gave her pointers on how to pick better targets and she says that she used the input a lot in her game today.