Jon Terbell is a summer intern at Golf Digest and will be a senior this fall at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Jon is caddieing for San Diego native Beth Sellers at the U.S. Girls' Junior Golf Championship at The Hartford Golf Club this week.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Beth Sellers and I walked into the West Hartford haze at 9 a.m. on Monday for the first round of stroke play at the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship. Sure, the conditions weren't ideal, but the heat and humidity -- that's something all 156 players would have to deal with.
As Beth and I began our round on the par-5 10th, I sensed she wasn't as sharp as she had been in practice. Still, she showed an ability to seemingly will the ball into the hole on her way to seven consecutive pars (including a disappointing 5 on the short 479-yard, par-5 16th). On the 145-yard 17th, Beth pushed her tee shot and had a buried lie in the right bunker and made double bogey. After she scrambled to make bogey on the par-4 18th and then a three-putt bogey at the first hole (her 10th of the day), I could tell my player was feeling a sense of urgency-it was a little more like panic for me.
The goal on the first day, of course, is not to shoot yourself out of the tournament. After two days of stroke play, the low 64 advance to match play. So a high number in the opening round puts a lot of pressure on a player to make a good score in the second round.
With nine holes to go on day one (and at four over par) Beth seemed calm and unfazed. She made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 to gain some momentum. But as she played through the rising temperatures, the putts wouldn't fall (she had 33 for her round) and the driver preferred the shade (she hit just six fairways).
Nevertheless, considering she didn't have her best ball-striking day, Beth's 76 is a credit to her ability to grind out a decent score in difficult conditions. Although less than thrilled with her performance, Beth knows that a solid performance on Tuesday will qualify her for match play (she's currently tied for 64th).
Only seven girls broke par in the first round on the 6,265-yard, par-71 layout. Kyle Roig, 15, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., birdied her 18th hole of the day (the par-5 ninth) to shoot 67 and take a one-stroke lead. Among those with good first rounds were 2007 champion, Kristen Park, 16, of Buena Park, Calif., who finished with a two-over-par 73, and the 2006 champion, Jenny Shin, 15, of Torrance, Calif., who shot a one-over 72. Two strokes off the lead is 17-year-old Madison Pressel, younger sister of the LPGA Tour's Morgan Pressel.