The first round of the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic has come to a close. The field had to battle through tough conditions all day, with Wildhorse Golf Course seeing wind gusts up to 35 mph. The morning wave was able to sneak in a handful of holes before the big gusts rolled through and they took advantage. Four of the players in the top-five after round one were all in the morning wave.
Xiaowen Yin teed off late in the morning and was one of the main players to take advantage of the tame winds in the morning. Yin started her tournament on the back nine and made par on her first hole of the day. After the par, Yin rattled off five straight birdies but would stumble just before the turn, making a bogey on her 8th hole. Yin turned with a 32 (-4) and then added two more birdies on her next nine holes to sign for a 66 (-6) to hold a one-shot lead.
“Today was really tough with the wind,” said Yin. “The course conditions were perfect though. I played here last year, and it was windy so I knew it could be windy even though it was not windy during the practice rounds."
Yin is no stranger to having leads on the Epson Tour. In 2022, Yin took home two trophies and fell $2,000 short of Player of the Year honors. Yin has yet to find the same success on the LPGA Tour, but with the week off she is hoping to rekindle some of the magic she had on the Epson Tour to help her with the rest of her season. Yin seems to have found something while in Pendleton and she hopes to keep it going throughout the week.
“My game felt pretty good today,” said Yin. “My driver was perfect, and my putting was really good. I made a lot of birdie putts and had a run of five in a row. I think my game is getting better and it was just a really good day.”
Katherine Smith is sitting one-shot behind Yin and is coming off a runner-up finish last week at the Four Winds Invitational. Smith was one of the most inform players heading into the week and it is showing. The 24-year-old signed for one of the more impressive rounds of the day, despite not having the lead to show for it. Smith posted a bogey free five-under 67 in winds that reached up to 35mph during her round. The Minnesota native is currently No. 19 in the Race for the Card and has a chance to move even closer to top 10 with another strong week in Pendleton.
“I was really apprehensive when waking up this morning just looking and knowing the conditions were going to be really tough,” said Smith. “I knew the round today was going to take a lot of patience so that was a big part of my round today. I wanted to play smart but also take advantage of my opportunities and not play scared. I just trusted in my preparation, and it worked well today.”
Alana Uriell turned in a round of 69 (-3) to put her in a tie for third heading into moving day. Uriell had a consistent day on the course, not a making a score over a 5 all day. The 27-year-old has a win on the Epson Tour in 2019 at the SKYiGOLF Championship, proving she can win on tour. Uriell has yet to have a top-1- finish in 2023, but she has done her homework coming into the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic and she is seeing the results.
“The course seemed to play fairly easy in the practice rounds compared to today,” said Uriell. “I have never played in this tournament before or this course before, but I knew that it could get windy so during my practice rounds I factored in misses and where I would play those from. I think that really helped me out today.”
Ashley Lau and Keera Foocharoen sit at -3 and in a tie for third to round out the top of the leaderboard heading into round two of the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic.
Keera Foocharoen (-3, T3) on her 3-under opening round:
“I saw that it was a tough weather today, so I told myself to stay calm out there today. I tried to talk to my mom and just ignore what was going on around me and just hit the ball. I was just trying to hit my targets I had in my yardage book and not even look at the pins. I just need to remember to stay calm and just play my game.”
Kim Kaufman (-2, T7) on her colorful round one scorecard:
“I knew we were lucky getting to tee off at 7:15. We got about four holes in before the wind started to pick up and I definitely took advantage of it early on holes two through four. We knew it was going to be tough out there, but I am happy with the result and just happy to be done.”
Chatprapa Siri Edell (-1, T8) on her strong finish to round one:
“For me I was just trying to hang in there all day. I just tried to play it shot-by-shot and have fun. It was difficult out there today. I tried to play with feel, but I was struggling with my putting on the front nine and then I adjusted on the back nine and rolled it better. I just started to go for it and trusted it.”