Round one of the Champions Fore Change Invitational was seeing red as 79 players were able to card under-par rounds to start their weekend of golf. The course had little defense in the first round, with little wind and receptive greens. Nevertheless, players fired at the pins with low numbers rolling through all day. And today, one player made history, doing what no one has ever done at Taberna Country Club; shoot a 63 (-9) round.
Yiyi Liu performed spectacularly today with a nine-under 63, including an eagle and eight birdies. The only bogey of the day came on No. 8 but was immediately followed up with a birdie on the next hole. Then, Liu chipped in for eagle on No. 6, which was only one of four chip-ins for Liu. The last chip-in came on No. 18 to break the course record and set the tournament record at the Champions Fore Change Invitational.
"It feels good. I have never chipped that great before in my life. I made four chip-ins on the day, one for eagle and three for birdie," said Liu. "It was just so cool, and to break the record on a beautiful golf course was great."
The 22-year-old is coming off an impressive stretch of events. The last two tournaments were the best two of her season. Then, a T13 finish at the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship and a 6th place finish at the IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty moved her into the top 50 in the Race for the Card despite only playing four events so far in 2023. Liu will try to continue her great play but knows today was her day around the greens.
"After I made the chip-in on hole 18, I just said to myself, 'Oh my god. Today is my day' and I am just happy with how I played," said Liu.
Five players, including Cassie Porter, are sitting T2 (-6) after 18 holes. Porter put together an impressive round of golf by carding a bogey-free 66 (-6) while only making one birdie on the five par 5s on the course. Porter heads into round two knowing she can make birdies on some of the shorter par 4s at Taberna Country Club. If she can figure out the par 5s expect another low score from the Aussie.
"The course just sets up really well for me this week. I am having a few more wedges into the par 4's this week instead of some long irons, and I was able to take advantage of that, which was nice," said Porter. "The expectations for myself have gone down, and it has been relieving. I have just been trying to commit to my process and let it happen. It was nice that it did today."
Joining Porter in the group at T2 is Roberta Liti, who, like Porter, was able to do something the leader was not; get around Taberna Country Club without recording a bogey. Liti is also coming off an impressive stretch of golf, with back-to-back 4th-place finishes. The 27-year-old is currently No. 8 on the Race for the Card standings and has played the least number of events out of anyone in the top 10. However, Liti has been near the top of the leaderboard early in the week at the past two events, so she knows there is still a lot of golf left to be played in New Bern.
"The round was good today. I was just trying to keep my momentum going from last week and pick up where I left off," said Liti. "I was just staying in the present and kept doing what I was doing. There is a lot of golf left so I just have to keep it up."
Rounding out, the rest of the players sitting at T2 are Jennifer Rosenberg, Bailey Shoemaker (a), and Selena Costabile. Just behind them at -5 is a group of six players who will look to try and track down the leader tomorrow during moving day.
Jennifer Rosenberg (-6, T2) on her impressive day on the greens and her confidence going forward:
"My putting today was amazing; I can't remember the last time I putt like that, and I am just really proud of myself. This round gives me a lot of confidence going forward. I have been really struggling lately and to play the round I did today, it really gets me excited for the rest of the week."
Amelia Garvey (-4, T13) on her good play starting to translate into good scores:
"I feel like I have been playing well for the past couple weeks but haven't really been scoring well so it is nice to post a low one out there. There's lots of birdies out there and this course really suits me. I just have to do the same again tomorrow and hopefully just hit a few shots closer tomorrow."
Phu Khine (-2, T38) on posting an under-par round as a sponsor invite:
"I was nervous since yesterday. The first hole I made a double-bogey and I told myself to get it together. After that hole I got calmer and was just trying to play my game. I was hitting a lot of consistent shots and my putts started to go in. I also had two chip-ins today so all together I think I will be able to get through to the cut."