ROGERS, Ark. — Arkansas junior Kelli Shean shot a 5-over 76 Friday in the first round of the LPGA’s P&G beauty NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers. It was also a tough day for a pair of former Razorbacks, former NCAA Champion Stacy Lewis carded a 2-over 73 while Futures Tour rookie Lucy Nunn shot a 4-over 75.
It was a tough turn of events for Shean after shooting a 2-under 69 to win the qualifier on Tuesday. “It was a long day out there”, noted the Cape Town, South Africa native. “It was very frustrating. I didn’t make a single birdie the whole day. Usually, the last couple of weeks I’ve playing here I’ve 3, 4, or 5 birdies out there but today I had no luck with birdies. Hopefully, tomorrow they’ll go in.”
This is the first time a Razorback has earned a spot in an LPGA event through qualifying. Shean noted it was a lot different playing today than in Tuesday’s qualifier. “It’s really nerve-racking at the beginning. After a few holes I calmed down and kinda of got back into a normal round of golf. You don’t really realize how big this is until you’re standing around among the players and look at the leaderboard. Suddenly, you realize you’re not watching TV anymore, you’re on the same golf course so it’s really exciting. “
“I know it was a tough day for all three of our Razorback golfers, but they all hung in there and battled.”, remarked Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. “It seemed at first they all were playing a little tight in trying to play well in front of so many Razorbacks fans, but once they settled down they played some good golf enough it was just a matter of putts not falling. Hopefully, those putts will fall tomorrow for all three.”
“I’m really proud of the way Kelli handled herself because as she noted, this was a lot different than the qualifier on Tuesday.”, noted Estes-Taylor. “Once she settled in, she really gave herself a lot of birdie putt opportunities and that was very indicative of the way she’s been playing the last month or so. I’m excited to see how she responds tomorrow.”
Sandra Gal leads the tournament after a first round 7-under par 64 as 50 players broke par in the opening round. The tournament is a 54-hole with the cut coming after tommorrow’s 2nd round with the top 70 and ties advancing to Sunday’s final round.
Shean will tee of tomorrow at 9:05am on the 10th hole. She will be paired with Jimin Jeong and Audra Burks. Lewis, who is currently 44th on the LPGA money list for 2009, will tee off at 1:49pm on the 10th hole. Nunn, who is playing on a sponsors exemption, will tee off at 12:54pm on the 10th hole.