Much like Steve Stricker’s semi-retirement schedule of late, Laura Diaz has taken plenty of time away from professional golf – choosing instead to focus on raising her two children. Thursday, however, she also excelled on the course with a bogey-free 62 at Highland Meadows in Sylvania, Ohio, to take a four-shot lead in the first round of the LPGA’s Marathon Classic.
Diaz got the day started with birdies at Nos. 10-14 – then missed a 7-foot putt that would have given her a sixth consecutive. Scattering four birdies the rest of the way, she got to the clubhouse in 9 under. Diaz is looking for her first top-25 finish since 2010.
Austin Ernst and Lee-Ann Pace are tied for second, with Lydia Ko and reigning Women’s British Open champ Mo Martin among six players T-4 at 4 under.
“Knowing the course from last year is definitely a little better for me. I can relax a little bit,” Ko had said during a Wednesday interview. “But I think the course is in really good condition after seeing the course (Tuesday).”
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis is T-33 at 1 under after a round that saw her birdie three times against two bogeys. The Ohio-born Lewis already has won a “hometown” event this season in Arkansas, where she played collegiately.
““As soon as I won in Arkansas I was getting messages from all the Marathon people. ‘Now you need to come win in Toledo, too,’ so no pressure,” Lewis had said Wednesday. “It would be awesome to win here. I mean, I’ve just come in here so many years, playing as an amateur, coming here as a kid, this place and this tournament means a lot to me.”
Looking to bounce back from a missed cut at the British, Michelle Wie opened with a 3-over 74.
– LPGA contributed