The first day of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament Stage II has officially concluded after 18 holes of play. The 188-player field was split between the Panther Course and Bobcat Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., with the low round of the day carded on Panther. The morning and afternoon waves had slightly different conditions for round one, with the morning wave getting caught in some gusty winds that would only slightly die down before the afternoon wave took to the course. The goal for those in the field this week is to finish inside the top 40 and ties and move on to LPGA Q-Series later this year, with the magic number sitting at even par after the first day of play.
Samantha Vodry is making her second career start at Stage II and began the tournament in a bogey-free fashion. The 7-under 65 is Vodry’s best performance at Stage II by a wide margin, topping her previous best round in Venice, Fla., by 12 shots. Vodry played in 16 events on the Epson Tour during the 2023 season as a rookie, making the cut in six of her appearances.
A T11 finish at the IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty was the best finish of the year for the 26-year-old, which included her low round of the season, a 5-under 66. Vodry is coming off a strong performance at the Epson Tour Championship, where she put together four straight under-par rounds, and is hoping to carry this early momentum into the rest of the week.
“I felt pretty comfortable. Played here last year, so that was nice to know the course well,” said Vodry. “You know, I drove it well so didn't really ever get into any bad spots. And then my ball striking was just really good, so I had a lot of opportunities for birdie and was able to roll those in.”
Two shots behind the leader sits World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) No. 1 Ingrid Lindblad. The Louisiana State University Tiger signed for a bogey-free, first-round 67 and shares second alongside her fellow amateur, Sabrina Iqbal. Even with 54 holes left to play, Lindblad sees her solid first round as proof that she belongs on a professional stage and hopes to keep that going throughout the week. Capitalizing on the par 5s helped her go low on Tuesday, something the Swede will continue to emphasize for the remaining rounds.
“It felt pretty good. I had birdied all the par-5s before nine, so I was just like, okay, hit it up on the green and just -- I only had a 5-wood in, so just hit up on the green, two-putt, and walk out of there with a birdie,” said Lindblad. “So it felt really good. Overall, all day it was solid. It felt like golf was very easy today.”
Iqbal joins Lindblad in a tie for second at 5-under after an impressive first round. Iqbal competed for the University of Colorado Buffalos in 2023 as a graduate transfer from Texas Christian University before heading to Stage II for the second time. At TCU, Iqbal was All-Big 12 twice and won twice while representing the Horned Frogs. The 22-year-old knows how much this week means going forward but doesn’t want to get too far ahead of herself just yet, even with a strong 67 under her belt.
“I think it's easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself,” said Iqbal. “Especially since the results have a lot of weight carrying into next year. Obviously, playing the courses again always helps, but I think last year I just felt like the holes and a lot of shots got away from me. This year, I tried to focus on one shot at a time and not getting too far ahead of myself.”