Jennifer Peng (USGA photo)
, of Easton, Mass., Sarah Gallagher
, of Canton, Ga., and Jennifer Peng
, of San Diego, Calif., all posted 2-under-par 70s on Saturday to share the lead after the first round of stroke play in the 34th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship being conducted on the North Course at Berkeley Hall Club.
Buck, 33, who was a quarterfinalist in 2019, Gallagher, 48, and Peng, the youngest competitor in the field after turning 25 and becoming eligible for the event on July 10, were among only four players to break par on Saturday. Shannon Johnson
, the 2018 champion, finished one stroke back with a 1-under 71.
After turning at 3 over par, Buck rattled off five consecutive birdies on holes 4 through 8. That birdie stretch included a 3 on the 370-yard par-4 fifth hole, which ranked as the toughest hole during Round 1. She said her ball-striking dramatically improved over the closing nine.
“I really started to hit my irons better, giving myself a chance at a couple short ones,” said Buck, a club fitter who played her college golf at Northern Arizona University. “It’s amazing to go on a hot run like that, especially during the first day where you’re trying to post something good to move on.”
Gallagher’s round consisted of seven birdies against five bogeys. Starting on No. 10, she got off to a blistering start with birdies on her first three holes.
“After playing the practice rounds, I knew that there were going to be a couple holes that were bogey holes, ones that play a little longer for me,” said Gallagher, a sixth-grade social studies teacher in Roswell, Ga., who played collegiately at the University of Florida. “I knew that if I made some birdies early that it would be a manageable round, and fortunately [I] started out with three straight birdies.”
Peng posted the lone eagle on Day 1 as she made a 3 on the 519-yard, par-5 15th.
“I hit a good drive and had 250 [yards] in and figured I wasn’t going to reach the green,” said Peng. “It got a great kick and trickled nine feet from the hole while the group ahead of us was still putting. I felt so bad that I actually got it up there, but making the putt was a nice feeling.”
Peng, a senior financial analyst, last played in a USGA championship at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur. After graduating from Yale University in 2018 and moving to New York, she took a short hiatus from the game before a move back home to San Diego last August got her back playing regularly.
Seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port
was one of three players to card an even-par 72. Port, 60, is playing in her 27th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur after finishing runner-up to Lara Tennant nine days ago in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at The Lakewood Club in Point Clear, Ala.
Round 2 of stroke play will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday, and the low 64 players will qualify for match play, which begins on Monday. If necessary, a playoff to determine the final match-play spots will take place on Sunday after the completion of Round 2.
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur originated in
1987 to provide a national competitive arena
for amateurs 25 and older. Besides the age
restriction, the event is open to those with a
USGA Handicap Index of 9.4 or lower. It is
one of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly
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