It’s a simple fact: only one American LPGA player has ever won the Volunteers of America® Texas Shootout. But, judging from the windy first round of the 2017 event, held at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas, that record has the potential to change.
Americans Michelle Wie, Marina Alex, Sandra Changkija and Jennifer Song are currently tied for second at -4, along with with Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Sung Hyun Park from the Republic of Korea and Katherine Kirk of Australia. Nine other Americans, including Texas native Angela Stanford, Cristie Kerr, Gerina Piller and Lexi Thompson are in the top 20 moving into the second round.
Mi Jung (M.J.) Hur of the Republic of Korea, with her smoking hot putter, leads the field at -6. Hur currently lives in Dallas, and has gone back to her original swing coach, who just happens to be her dad.
Based on her performance Thursday, including a brilliant recovery from a water ball to save par on number 15, dad’s tutelage is doing just fine. This season, Mi Jung Hur has six starts and has yet to finish outside the top 30.
For American players with Solheim Cup ambitions, performance at the Texas Shootout is critical. Eight of the players will qualify based on points accumulated from top 20 finishes at LPGA events—and time is running out.
Lexi Thompson is currently the points leader, with Angela Stanford hovering in position 9.
The conclusion of the Shootout also ushers in the reshuffle of the 2017 LPGA Tour season, giving players who score well the opportunity to qualify for more tournaments. Category 8 on the LPGA Priority List will include players in the Top 80 of the current year’s Money List, with priority based on the order of that list. So, the outcome of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout could have far more of an impact on the players’ season than most.
With everything that’s at stake, Michelle Wie, for one, is not going to let the pressure get to her.
Her strategy for tomorrow is the same as it was today: Try to make as many birdies as she can, take advantage of opportunities and, if she finds herself in trouble, try to make pars.
As for keeping her mental game in check, her approach is pretty simple.
“Just have fun out there,” Wie said. “You know, it’s a game, and just try and play it like it.”
So, game on, Michelle, and all of the fabulous field at the Shootout.
Ready for more great golf to come.