Rookies lead the way in breezy Round 1 of Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

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Rookies lead the way in breezy Round 1 of Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

LPGA Tour

Rookies lead the way in breezy Round 1 of Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – A veteran joked that it felt like rookie hazing day on the LPGA. With average wind speeds of 18 to 26 m.p.h. and gusts up to 35, Round 1 of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was a pure grind.

Yet Maria Torres, playing in her first professional event, walked off the 18th green all smiles. The Florida grad woke up to wind and rain for her 7:32 a.m. tee time at the Ocean Club and had an “Oh my God” moment. The first Puerto Rican to gain full LPGA membership then reminded herself that as an island native, she has seen these type of conditions before – just play.

Torres’ 3-under 70 is one back of another LPGA rookie, Luna Sobron Galmes, who carded a bogey-free 69 on a day where the wind never let up. Beverly Hanson was the last LPGA member to win in her first start at the 1951 Eastern Open.

World No. 1 Shanshan Feng is also a rookie of sorts, playing in her first Pure Silk event. She had to ask other players: Is this normal?

Lexi Thompson lost in a playoff here last year after slogging through the end of regulation play in a four-club wind. Thompson said the wind has been whipping back home in West Palm Beach, Fla., at Trump International.

If I’m playing well I know I can play well in the wind, but the key is to hit it solid,” said Thompson, who opened with a 1-under 72. “The amateurs get out here and they start hitting harder and harder, but that’s not the key. You’ve gotta swing a little bit smoother and make sure you get that center contact.”

Feng figured it out pretty easily, carding a 70 to sit one shot back of Sobron Galmes and Sarah Jane Smith. The Chinese star said she picked the best time to become No. 1 in the world as she got several bonus weeks during the offseason.

Feng’s practice rounds did little to prepare her for the main event as it was calm here early in the week. She headed straight to the chipping area for extra practice Thursday morning when the weather turned sour.

“I didn’t hit many greens,” she said, “but I saved a lot of up and downs.” 

Lincicome, who opened with a 74, won this event in 2017 but was listening to Smith’s post-round interview trying to find tips on playing the wind. She decided not to play in Tuesday’s calm conditions knowing it wouldn’t be anything like the rest of the week. Instead she headed to the range with her caddie, Missy Pederson, who had crunched some numbers in the offseason to see where her boss could gain consistency. Pederson decided more work needed to be done to hone in the wedges and her 8-iron, the clubs Lincicome hits most often.

Lincicome doesn’t really have much of an interest in being No. 1, saying it’s too much pressure. She’d feel more comfortable as the fifth-best player in the world. The two-time major winner is currently 53rd.

“My 14th year out here, you’d think I could figure it out,” she said, “but I just don’t understand how these girls, literally every week, they’re in the top 10. I don’t know how they do it. I need their secret.”

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