Sweetgrass Golf Club put up a fight in the First Round of the Island Resort Championship. When the last putt dropped for the day, only 47 players were able to post a red number to start their weekend. A calm morning yielded some lower scores than the afternoon when the winds began to pick up, and greens started to get firmer. As the day came to an end, two players were able to grab a share of the lead heading into Saturday.
A common theme throughout the 2023 Epson Tour season has been when it is an athlete's birthday, expect a low round. Jessica Porvasnik was the next player to join the list, posting a bogey-free 66 (-6) to open her tournament and start her birthday on the right note. Porvasnik started her day off hot, making the turn at -4 before rolling in two more birdies on her second nine to close out her day.
"I stayed patient today, which was big for me," said Porvasnik. "I haven't had a good start to my season, but I knew my game was close; it wasn't far off. The course is in great shape, too, the greens are rolling really well, and this was just a good way to start my birthday."
The Ohio native has been on a skid lately, only making one cut in her last five events played on the Epson Tour. Porvasnik put up a top-15 finish last week at the 2023 Inspirato Colorado Women's Open and got her game moving in the right direction. Now, opening with a bogey-free round, Porvasnik feels her game is back on track after a mental reset.
"The round today gave me a huge boost of confidence," said Porvasnik. "It adds a lot of momentum to my season as well and kind of gets my season going. I had a new mindset heading into the Colorado Open, and I am just trying to stick to the same gameplan this week."
Tsai Ching Tseng is tied at the top with Porvasnik, who is making her first start on the Epson Tour. The Chinese Taipei native started her Epson Tour career in style, who, like Porvasnik, signed for a bogey-free 66 (-6) to start the Island Resort Championship. Tseng's round started trending with her birdie on the fifth hole. She would birdie five out of her next 13 holes to tie Porvasnik's lead heading into moving day.
"I was hitting my driver really good; I think I only missed two fairways," said Tseng. "On the front nine, I did not hit my irons good, but I was able to make some really long putts for birdies. On the back, my irons started to get dialed in and it gave me more comfortable birdie putts."
Trailing the two leaders by one shot is Natasha Andrea Oon, who was also able to get around Sweetgrass Golf Club without a square on the scorecard. Oon's bogey-free 67 (-5) was highlighted by a run of four birdies in five holes on her first nine holes, with a birdie on her last hole of the day to move her into solo third. Oon is the highest-ranked player on the Race for the Card who is in the field at the Island Resort Championship, currently sitting at No. 2. With a win in Harris, Oon could surpass Gabriela Ruffels for the top spot at the midway point in the season.
"I love thinking my way around a golf course, and I did that well today," said Oon. "The week off really helped me refresh myself mentally and really study the golf course this week. I felt like in the past couple weeks I just wasn't mentally all there. I felt good in my practice rounds and learned things about the course that I probably wouldn't have if I didn't have the refreshed mindset."
Rounding out the rest of the top finishers are Hsin-Yu Lu, Lindsey McCurdy, and Teresa Toscano, who all were able to turn in cards of 68 (-4) and sit at T4 for the tournament.
Lindsey McCurdy (-4, T4) on a strong opening round:
"The course was feeling pretty gettable this morning. I honestly felt like I left a couple of shots out there since I was putting myself in good positions to make birdie. I really enjoy this course and it's in great shape so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Teresa Toscano (-4, T4) on her confidence after her first LPGA Tour start last week:
"I have to say I was a little tense when I played out there last week, but it was amazing. There were so many people around, just watching and clapping for the players. Just being out there with all the LPGA Tour players, it felt like I was living a dream. I felt like I had a good week even though I didn't make the cut, but I took away a lot of positives and the confidence is really high right now."
Dorsey Addicks (-3, T7) on her -3 first round as the first group off:
"I will always take the earliest tee time. It isn't fun when you have to wake up early, but you also have the rest of the day to take a nap after that. That first tee time though, you usually have the most pristine conditions for at least nine holes and I had a great group which made it even better."