St. Albans, MO – The 91st running of the LNGA Amateur Championship began with the first round Monday morning from The Country Club at St. Albans.
Ashley Lau leads the field after a bogey-free 5-under 67. The rising senior at Michigan was one of just two in the field of 84 players to go mistake-free the first 18-holes. She is tied for the tournament lead in birdies with five, three of which came on her first six holes of the day.
“I really just stuck to my game, play one shot at a time,” Lau said. “My sister is caddying for me; we have good times together on the course. I made a lot of putts but also missed some so today could have gone way better. That’s golf, there’s always the ifs, but going to try and do the same thing tomorrow.”
The All-Big Ten first teamer will be in one of the last groups off on day two with a 12:12 p.m. tee time.
A pair sit at 3-under on the leaderboard just two strokes off Lau’s pace. Caroline Caudill and Leila Raines each turned in first round 69s.
Caudill, a rising senior at Middle Tennessee State, matched Lau’s feat of going bogey-free the first 18 holes. The Clarksville, Tennessee native carded three birdies and fifteen pars to lead the field in that category.
Raines, who will be a sophomore at Michigan State, went 2-under her first 11 holes. Her only miscue came on the par 3 12th and birdies on No.’s 14 and 16 saw her finish the day just two back of the lead.
Three sit at 2-under, including Caroline’s younger sister Catherine, who led early after going 2-under her first six holes. A couple bogeys right before the turn quickly got her back to even, but birdies down the stretch on No.’s 14 and 16 got her back in red figures.
Lilly Thomas, a rising junior at Tulsa, shot 2-under with four birdies and an eagle on the par 5 14th, one of just six eagles total on day one.
Jieni Li, a rising sophomore at Northwestern, went bogey-free 3-under her first 13 holes. A stretch of bogey-birdie-bogey on No.’s 14, 15 and 16 set her back one shot down the stretch.
St. Albans member Drew Nienhaus is one of ten in a tie for seventh at 1-under. The Penn State signee went 3-under her first seven holes, but all pars down the stretch with a pair of bogeys moved her to back 1-under.
“It’s really exciting to know that my last tournament before college is at the place I have grown up and have been playing my entire life,” Nienhaus said. “I’m excited to play here, getting to play with some new players, and really see what I can do out here.”
Neinhaus is tied with fellow St. Joseph’s Academy graduate Nicole Rallo and Northwestern’s Jennifer Cai for the Junior Medal.
Makenna Jones, who will be a red-shirt freshman at the University of Cincinnati, recorded her first hole-in-one of her career with an ace on the par 3 15th. A four-iron from 190 yards out found the bottom of the cup. Her mom was on the bag for her for the first time to see it.
22 players shot even par or better on day one and are within five shots of the lead.
The team of Caroline and Catherine Caudill lead the Howell Trophy chase after the first-round, shooting 5-under as a team while representing Middle Tennessee State. The team trophy goes to the best total score for a pair from the same university, college, or club.
Second round gets underway Tuesday morning with tee times beginning at 7:15 a.m. CT off hole No. 1.
For update throughout the final two days of play, follow the LNGA on Twitter @LNGA_Golf.