Mid-ams Woodard, Stasi tame CC of Charleston

Dawn Woodard, right, watches a shot on Monday with caddie and friend Kelley Hester.

First-round scores

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Dawn Woodard’s bright purple shirt, hat and golf bag contrasted sharply with the manicured turf at Country Club of Charleston. Her color choice was a bold statement of local prowess. Furman ties run deep for Woodard, the 38-year-old who even had Paladin head coach Kelley Hester on the bag.

As breezes picked up around the course on a postcard Monday afternoon, no one could touch Allisen Corpuz, the 15-year-old from Honolulu, who posted a 2-under 69 in the morning wave. Corpuz was the only player below par by the end of the day. Woodard, however, had two bogeys and a birdie, and with 1-over 72 landed in an 11-way tie for ninth.

“I thought the golf course played difficult today because of length,” Woodard said. “It was just a different wind than we had seen in practice rounds. I think you just have to be very patient and take what it gives you, which is a good thing for me. I’m not going to ever go out there and make a lot of birdies, but I can make a lot of pars, usually.”

As Woodard signed for her score late in the afternoon, Hester removed her caddie bib and tallied her friend’s stats. Hester, a Georgia alumnae, played against Woodard at Furman in the late 1990s. When Hester, who spent five years as the Georgia women’s golf coach, moved back to Greenville, S.C., last year to take the Furman job, the two women rekindled their friendship.

Hester was active on the greens on Monday, pointing out breaks on Charleston’s undulating putting surfaces, but not as active as Woodard. The reigning Carolinas Player of the Year has an unusual putting routine that involves addressing the ball then using the putter head as a measuring device to determine the right distance from the ball. She then takes her stance, stands up straight and sets her arms before returning the putter head to the ground and making her stroke.

“I’m not a technical person at all, but what I found was that by doing it, I knew I was where I needed to be and it was correct," she said. "It took the doubt out of that and it sort of became a confidence thing.”

Woodard had just one three-putt and two one-putts, and calls the day’s “bonus” her two-putt from 90 feet at No. 4. It helped her save par from just off the green.

Unbelievably, Woodard is playing in only her second U.S. Women’s Amateur this week. She also qualified to play in 2007, at Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel, Ind., but failed to get in the field in 2008 and ’09.

The backyard venue – Charleston is only about three hours from Greenville – sealed the deal for Woodard this year. She put 12-year-old daughter Samantha on the bag for the qualifier. Oldest daughter Ashli, 15, was in the gallery on Monday and Woodard also has a third daughter, Caitlin, 10. It leaves little time for practice.

“The last couple years I haven’t tried (to qualify) because it hasn’t been close or convenient and it’s close to the kids going back to school,” she said.

Woodard is one of five mid-amateurs in the field in Charleston, and the only one who wasn't exempt. That mid-am contingent includes Meghan Stasi, 35; Ellen Port, 51; Jane Fitzgerald, 51 and Liz Waynick, 55.

In the first group off of No. 1 tee on Monday, Stasi returned an even-par 71. It gave her the early lead before Corpuz came in with 69.

“It felt pretty solid,” Stasi said of her game. “It was good to get out to a good start.”

Stasi described the Country Club of Charleston as a course where a player must pay attention to every shot. The reigning U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey. She got in and out of No. 11, the par 3 with the treacherous, sloping green, with a par.

“I will take it,” Stasi said with a slight laugh.

Stasi's is a good position to be in early week at the Women's Amateur.

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