NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (September 6, 2014) – Dawn Woodard shot a 1-under 71 and sits atop the leader board following Saturday’s first round of stroke-play qualifying in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club.
Woodard, 40, of Greer, S.C., opened strong with two birdies in her first nine holes. Though she did not play as smoothly on the inward nine, carding three bogeys to two birdies, Woodard was pleased with her overall performance, the day’s only sub-par round.
“I didn’t play superb by any means, but I didn’t make any mistakes,” said Woodard, who holds the championship’s 18-hole scoring record with a 68 in 2005. “It was a good, solid start. I was just looking for a good, consistent round, and that’s what I got.”
Woodard also took advantage of her afternoon tee time, which featured sunny skies and moderate temperatures, leading to better scoring conditions. Players with morning rounds dealt with near-constant drizzle and swirling winds.
“Conditions were perfect out there,” said Woodard, who fell in the Round of 32 in 2013. “(There was) a little bit of wind out there on the back nine, and it seemed to get a little stronger. I made more mistakes on the back than on the front.”
Woodard took medalist honors in 2006, 2007 and 2012. Should she do so again on Sunday, she would join six-time USGA champion Ellen Port as the only four-time medalists in Women’s Mid-Amateur history. However, the savvy veteran knows that match play is where the championship will be decided.
“These greens, every time you can get on them, you learn a little bit,” said Woodard. “You want to play a good, solid round of golf, but at the same time, I feel like I’m still using it for gathering information.”
Defending U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter continued her strong championship play. Potter, 26, of Granger, Ind., carded an even-par72 and sits one stroke behind Woodard in solo second.
Potter, the director of marketing and women’s golf for the Indiana Golf Office, admitted to some nerves on the first tee when faced with defending her title on home soil. After an opening bogey amid the morning’s misty rain and swirling winds, Potter birdied the par-5 second hole to immediately regain her composure.
“Luckily after the first few holes, I calmed myself down,” said Potter, who ultimately returned an up-and-down round of four birdies and four bogeys. “I just have to go out and hit some better approach shots, but I’ll take 72 with the conditions we were playing with this morning.”
A trio of players is tied for third at 1-over 73, including 2013 runner-up Margaret Shirley, 28, of Atlanta.
“I can’t complain about a 73,” said Shirley, the manager of rules and competitions for Atlanta Junior Golf. “The greens were much more receptive today than they were yesterday during the practice round. Having the rain actually helped with some things like that.”
Shirley is joined at 73 by Mariko Makabe, 27, of Irvine, Calif., and Debbie Adams, 47, of Asheville, N.C. Makabe only recently returned to competitive golf after a two-year break in which she worked as a manager and translator for LPGA and JLPGA Tour player Momoko Ueda. Adams reached the Round of 16 in the 2013 Women’s Mid-Amateur, where she lost to Shirley in 19 holes.
Three shots back in a tie for sixth is AmateurGolf.com's own Lynne Cowan of Rocklin, Calif. Cowan shot 74 and is certainly in contention heading into the second round.
Martha Leach, who won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, is one of three players tied for sixth at 2-over 74. Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 36, of Oakland Park, Fla., opened with a 5-over 77 and is tied for 18th.
The 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final at 9 a.m. EDT on Thursday.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is open to female amateur golfers who are at least 25 years of age.