BRADENTON, Fla. — After firing a 2-under 69 in her first round as an LPGA Tour member on day one of the LPGA Drive On Championship, Epson Tour graduate Isabella Fierro carded another 69 on Friday at Bradenton Country Club, making one bogey, one double bogey and five birdies to sit at 4-under overall with two rounds to go in her season debut.
The rookie raced out of the gate, recording back-to-back birdies on holes 10 and 11 to move to 2-under on the day quickly, but she cooled slightly, parring her next five holes before striking again with another birdie on the par-5 17th hole. She birdied again on No. 18 to turn in 31, and after parring the first hole, Fierro tripped up with a bogey on the par-4 2nd hole, missing a sliding five-footer for par to drop back to 3-under overall.
A bad break with a lie in a bunker on the par-4 3rd hole led to a double bogey, and for many rookies, that might have derailed the rest of their round. But Fierro hung on, making five pars and a birdie on the par-5 8th hole to post her second consecutive 69 and sit well inside the top 20 ahead the of the weekend in Bradenton, Fla.
“Golf is a sport of mistakes. It's not a sport of perfection,” said the 2024 LPGA Tour rookie. “I knew and I believe in myself, and I knew that deep down in me that birdies will come, just be patient. We missed a couple of shots just like any other player out here. I think I kept my head held high, and we knew there were a lot of birdie chances out there sticking to the game plan, so it paid off.”
Fierro earned LPGA Tour status for the 2024 season after finishing ninth in the Epson Tour’s Race for the Card in 2023. She made $103,290 last year on the Epson Tour, recording one victory at the Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic and picking up six additional top-10 finishes throughout her rookie season.
Many of players will turn professional right out of college and try their hand at LPGA Qualifying School before committing to the Epson Tour for a full season. But when Fierro didn’t get her card on her first try at Q-School, it was her coach who really encouraged her to compete on the LPGA’s Official Qualifying Tour in 2023.
“I asked my coach this question whenever I went through Q-School if I was ready for the LPGA when I didn't get my card, and he said, no, you have to go through Epson Tour. Epson Tour is the best school, best preparation,” Fierro said. “You play with such high-level, quality golfers, and you play amazing golf courses. The purses have increased.
“Epson Tour doesn't get the credit that it should. They're doing such an amazing job, and I wouldn't be here without the Epson Tour. I'm so grateful to them.”
And Fierro is proving that point with her performance thus far at the LPGA Drive On Championship. While she will have some ground to make up on Saturday and Sunday if she wants to track down the leaders, a top 10 would be more than an impressive start from the rookie in her first event as an LPGA Tour member.
With 36 holes left to accomplish that goal, Fierro plans to stick to the same strategy that she and her caddie, Heath Ziglar, have cooked up through the first two rounds of the LPGA Drive On Championship, one that appears to be working well after a pair of 69s Bradenton Country Club.
“Give myself birdie opportunities and stick to the game plan,” said Fierro of her weekend mindset. “Trusting that I've had a good process so far, trusting my game, trusting my caddie. It's golf. You never really know what's going to happen so I'll just keep enjoying it.”