Round one began at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove on Thursday with players teeing off the first tee of both the Falls Course and Crossings Course. One player emerged on top of the leaderboard after day one in Mobile, Ala., Ssu-Chia Cheng.
Cheng opened her third appearance at Q-series strong, making a birdie on her first hole of the Crossings Course. She would proceed to make two pars on holes 2 and 3 before beginning a streak of birdies that would stretch from the par-4 4th hole to the par-5 6th hole. The Chinese Taipei player would make one more birdie on her ninth hole to make the turn at five-under par. A bogey on No. 10 would slow her rise to the top of the leaderboard, but she quickly made up for it with back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14. Cheng maintained her spot as sole leader for the last four holes, coming into the clubhouse at six-under par. The 26-year-old credited her time on the Epson Tour this year, and her shots into the greens and putting for her solid play today.
“It's been pretty good season. I finished like 22nd on Money List. Obviously we all want to finish in top 10; you get into better category into LPGA,” said Cheng, who was an LPGA Tour Rookie in 2016. “I think the season prepare me pretty well going into this week for the Q-Series, and obviously today it's just really, really solid round out there. I hit like a lot of good approaching shots and made a lot of good putts. My caddie help me a lot on the green just reading the putts, so it's been great day today.”
With the possibility of playing six rounds in six consecutive days, most players like Cheng have made additional preparations headed into the week. “'I’m just trying to take it easy out here,” said Cheng. “I've been putting a lot of hard work like couple weeks before this, and this week out here I'm just trying to just like get myself ready for the week, and like in the practice round just trying to take a lot of notes on the course and try not to like overwork myself out there. You know, it's like marathon for this week.”
One shot behind Cheng sits Canadian Savannah Grewal and American Gigi Stoll. After turning professional just last week, Grewal started her professional career quickly at Q-Series, shooting a five-under 66 on the Falls Course. She made back-to-back birdies on holes 4 and 5 to make the turn at two-under par. The former Clemson University standout went on to make a birdie on the par-5 10th. Four birdies and just one bogey on the back nine would extend her to five-under par for the day, with a missed birdie putt on hole 18 that would hold her back from a share of the lead.
“I would say definitely my irons. I think I hit all 18 greens, so that definitely helps when you're hitting all the greens and just relying on putting. Definitely felt like my irons were solid,” said Grewal. ”I think just to enjoy the moment. It is my first tournament as a professional, so enjoy the first experience of being a professional and playing professional golf. Staying patient and staying present. It is a long tournament, so just staying very patient.”
Stoll started her first round at Q-Series with her sole bogey of the day on the Crossings Course. The Epson Tour player proceed to make a set of birdies on holes 4 and 5, as well as the par-3 8th hole on the front nine. The University of Arizona graduate had a streak of pars from holes 9 to 13 before picking up three birdies in her last five holes to sit one shot behind Cheng, who played in the same group as Stoll. Stoll credited her driver and her preparation ahead of this week to get her in good position today.
“I felt like after the first couple holes I got a good groove going. I was able to hit a lot of shots close from the fairway. I don't think I really missed a fairway out there off the tee. Then was just making a couple putts here and there,” said Stoll. “I spent a lot of time on both of the golf courses just to get really comfortable with the lay of the land and just the different kinds of shots you can get out here. So I felt like I was really prepared to hit any shot out there today.”
There are currently nine players sitting in a tie for fourth behind Cheng, Grewal and Stoll. These players include LET Rookie of the Year Trichat Cheenglab, former University of Tulsa player Lilly Thomas, Japanese player Yuri Yoshida, 17-year-old Liqi Zeng, 2022 LPGA Tour Rookie Maddie Szeryk, two-time Epson Tour winner and 2019 LPGA Tour Rookie Clariss Guce, 34-year-old Mina Harigae, five-time KLPGA winner So Mi Lee and 2022 LPGA Tour Rookie Amanda Doherty.