Hull makes an impression with opening 71

Charley Hull during the 2012 Sally Amateur.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Charley Hull got almost as much applause when she stepped off the Golf Channel’s podium for her post-round interview as she did when she stepped off 18 green.

Hull, the 16-year-old amateur from England, isn’t exactly shy, but she’s not the kind of gal to talk your ear off, either. She began her first major explosively, but remained calm as she delivered the details. Hull birdied the first hole at Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Course (“My first ever hole of my first ever major and that was my first ever pro tournament,” she said proudly) and finished with a 1-under 71. In the second group off No. 1 tee early Thursday, she bounced around the top 10 spots on the leaderboard all morning.

Standing on the chipping green on the eve of the championship, Hull talked about feeling a little loose over the ball, something she hoped she could overcome.

“I wasn’t hitting it very good on the range this morning,” she said.

Hull didn’t miss a green Thursday, and hit her iron shots close.

Yes, it’s been a good week so far for Hull, who hit balls earlier in the week near two of her favorite LPGA players, Lexi Thompson and Yani Tseng. Keep in mind that Thompson is only a year older than Hull, even though Thompson seems much older than that because Hull is used to watching her on TV.

Hull also got to walk the course with LPGA greats Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel, which came in handy strategy-wise. They helped her with a few secrets about how to read the greens at Mission Hills, and helped lighten the mood.

“We had quite a few laughs out there,” Hull said.

The LPGA is a considerably bigger stage than what Hull is used to, but Hull is trying to avoid all that and “just keep my head down,” even as the Tweets come pouring in.

“Just trying to concentrate, not try to do anything different to upset my routine,” she said.

Reserved though she may be, Hull still beamed as she strode to the scoring tent to sign for her round, and the smile remained as she discussed the details with assembled reporters. It grew even larger with news that good friend Jaye Marie Green, another amateur invitee with whom Hull stays when playing events in Florida, also was playing well. Green, who teed off a few minutes later than Hull on No. 10 tee, also shot 1-under 71.

Here’s to the amateurs.

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