The first round of the Copper Rock Championship was a day of red numbers. The opening round saw 54 players break par with the tournament record matched early in the day, only to fall later on along with the course record. Savannah Vilaubi (63), Therese Warner (65), and Auston Kim (66) separated themselves from the group of players tied at four under heading into the second round.
“Putts just dropped today, and I simply hit fairways and hit greens. The putts just happened to go in. It was really simple,” said Vilaubi. “It was one of those things where the ball ends up close to the hole. Proximity has kind of been a struggle of mine for the last few weeks, and it came together today.”
The word of the day for the first-round leader was “simple” even though the round was anything but that. Vilaubi carded 10 birdies to go along with one bogey that kick-started a run that vaulted the California native into solo first.
“I should mention that right before the birdie run, on the par-five no. 16, I was there in two and four-putted. That was kind of the wake-up call. Had it not been for that, I don’t think I would have had the fire to fire off as many birdies,” explained Vilaubi. “What was going through my head there is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, don’t over-think it and try to hit it close. I was playing conservative lines very aggressively.”
The 29-year-old not only holds a two-shot lead but now holds the course record at Copper Rock Golf Course. She will look to play more simple golf as she heads into round two tomorrow.
“This is my first course record, so that’s really really cool. It’s a great feeling, and that’s great news. I have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow,” said Vilaubi. “It’s going to be another simple round. I’ve gotten out of this mentality of having to play perfect golf, and it takes a lot of pressure off and playing golf is much easier that way.”
Therese Warner had the round of the morning, carding a seven-under 65. The former University of Arizona Wildcat kickstarted her round with three straight birdies, followed by back-to-back birdies later in the nine, before her first bogey of the round on hole 18. Warner would go on to one-up herself on her second nine by firing off four straight birdies and closing with a dropped shot on hole 9.
“Throughout the round, my momentum was strong all the way through. I started out birdie-birdie-birdie, back-to-back, so I started strong and ended strong as well. It definitely helps me going into the second day before the cut. It relaxes me a little bit, I have a little bit of room to move around, but I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully get another strong score in.”
Auston Kim, who has already turned in two top 10 finishes in 2023, is off to another strong start in Hurricane. Kim has yet to win on the Epson Tour, but a six-under round-one and a strong start to her young career, has her trending in the right direction in 2023.
“I’m feeling pretty good heading into round two. I know what I need to work on, but also, I know what I did well today, and after my round today, I know what I want to practice and work on in order to get better tomorrow. I just have to keep my foot on the gas pedal.”
Alyaa Abdulghany (-4, T11) on starting out her tournament strong with an eagle:
“It was nice, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t get to see the ball go in because I laid up on my second shot for that hole and probably had about 50-55 yards in. But it was nice, everyone reacted and jumped up, so it was cool.”
Su Oh (-4, T11) on her solid first-round:
“I holed a really good putt for birdie [on the last hole]. I chipped well and didn’t miss too many shots. I missed it all in the right spots, so that was the key.”