Following the first day of the two-week LPGA Q-Series, a trio of players leads the 110-player field at -6. Denmark’s Emily K. Pedersen, who represented Europe at the Solheim Cup in September, birdied her last two holes on the par-71 Falls Course to card a 6-under 65 and jump to the top of the leaderboard.
“I'm just going to try and make as many birdies as I can. We were having a laugh, David (Dickmeiss, her caddie) and I, on the course today thinking, after five holes he said to me, Perfect. You've only got 139 holes left,” she said with a big laugh. “So just kind of trying to take it shot by shot, and then obviously knowing that there is a lot of work still to be done, but hopefully we can build on it.”
Pedersen played on the LPGA Tour from 2017-2019 but returned to the Ladies European Tour (LET) after losing her status following the 2019 season. In 2020, she recorded four LET wins, including three consecutive victories to end the season, and won the Race to the Costa del Sol, the LET’s Order of Merit. This summer, she tied for fifth at the Tokyo Olympics and went 3-0-1 at the Solheim Cup. While there are still seven rounds to go, Pedersen’s solid start allows her a bit of peace looking to the rest of the week.
“It's a marathon this week, not a sprint, but it's nice to get off to a good start. Obviously, there is hopefully a lot to build on, but I'm trying to take every day as a new day and not really look at what's playing easy and what's playing tougher,” said Pedersen. “Just kind of do the best I can every single day. I don't want to put into my head that this is trickier or this is not. I know that if I play really good, I can score on any course and vice versa.”
Playing in the same group, Peiyun Chien of Chinese Taipei and Alejandra Llaneza of Mexico lit up the Crossings Course, which plays to as a par 72. Llaneza shot a bogey-free 6-under 66, saying, “I think my caddie and I had a good strategy, good numbers, and our shots into the greens, and the putting was great, so that always adds to a good score.” Llaneza, who represented Mexico at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, has split her time between the LPGA and Symetra Tours since 2012.
Chien went to the 18th at Crossings with a one-stroke lead on the strength of seven birdies but finished with a frustrating three-putt bogey to drop into a tie for first. “In the Q-Series, bogey's okay because you have many birdies, can come back,” said Chien, looking to regain her LPGA Tour card after losing status following the 2020 season. “You can’t have a big number in your score. That's most important.”
Haley Moore and Maddie McCrary are tied for fourth at -5, both recording rounds of 67 on the Crossings Course. Eight players are tied for sixth at -4.
2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno struggled in Thursday’s first round, carding two birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey on the Falls Course to finish in a tie for 81st at +2. Her Japanese compatriot Ayaka Furue, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, shot a -3 on the Crossings Course and heads to Friday in a tie for 14th.
LPGA Q-Series is composed of two 72-hole stroke-play events held on consecutive weeks, with scores cumulative over the two weeks. There will be a cut after the first week to the low 70 players and ties, with the second week being held at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, Ala. The 2020 competition was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Jeongeun Lee6 (2018) and Muni He (2019) taking medalist honors at the first two playings.