Mother Nature stole the show in Thursday’s first round of the Copper Rock Championship at Copper Rock Golf Course. The 120-player field battled sustained winds in Hurricane, Utah around 20 mph with gusts up to 45. Kim Kaufman controlled the conditions to shoot 2-under 70, one of only three players to finish the day in the red.
A birdie on No. 1 to open her round helped Kaufman get in the zone.
“I had some first-tee jitters. I knew it was going to be windy and those first two holes play on top of a hill, so they are daunting,” said Kaufman, who recorded three birdies. “But went to the second hole and settled down quite a bit.”
The performance by Kaufman marked her lowest opening-round score on Tour since a 6-under 66 at the 2021 Circling Raven Championship.
“There really were no easy holes, so tried to focus on the shot I was hitting. I would have given anything to shoot 2-under to start,” Kaufman said. “We have a lot of golf left, but it’s a confidence boost.”
New Zealand’s Amelia Garvey and Finland’s Kiira Riihijarvi joined Kaufman under par as both signed for a 1-under 71.
“I played 13 holes in this weather on Tuesday afternoon and thought it was a bit pointless, but obviously not when today was just as bad,” said Garvey. “The hardest thing was calculations. Off the tee, it was running about 100 yards downwind. I hit 5-iron the last two holes, chipping it down there and it went at least 250 yards.”
The afternoon at Copper Rock reminded the University of Southern California alumna of courses in her native country and more specifically The Hills in Arrowtown where she played a pro-am in December.
“It was just as windy, but a little wider off the tee,” Garvey said laughingly. “I actually told my caddie, he is also from New Zealand, that this course looks like it could be back home aside from the desert where we would instead have long, wispy grass.”
Utah native and tournament sponsor exemption Haley Sturgeon carded a 9-over 81 in the first round, while defending champion Bailey Tardy managed a 6-over 78. Kum-Kang Park and Linnea Strom, Epson Tour winners in 2022 at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic and IOA Championship respectively, each opened with a 77 in southwest Utah.
Laetitia Beck (E, 4th) on how she handled the winds:
“I was playing decent and able to control my shots. We wanted to survive the nine against the wind and then get to the holes playing downwind, thinking it might play a little easier but we were just happy to not be into the wind anymore. Going into No. 16 at 2-under, I was hoping to be under par. A good save on No. 18 kept me at even.”
Gigi Stoll (+1, T5) on her mindset heading into the first round:
“I knew it was going to be windy on the back nine. We were fortunate to play like eight holes without too much wind. From there, just keep your head on straight and don’t let the wind get to you too much. I kept telling myself, ‘Smooth swings,’ and ‘Play for the fat of the green.’ I’m pleased with today.”
Kathleen Scavo (+1, T5) on how the Women’s All Pro Tour has prepared her for the Epson Tour:
“The WAPT has great opportunity with the Race to Stage II and the competition continues to get better. They do a great job to prepare us for the Epson Tour. The golf courses we play on the WAPT are solid and they get us ready for the next level especially the challenging golf courses on the Epson Tour.”