Annabell Fuller takes early lead at ANNIKA Invitational USA

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Annabell Fuller takes early lead at ANNIKA Invitational USA

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Annabell Fuller takes early lead at ANNIKA Invitational USA

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Breaking par proved a rewarding experience Saturday at the World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course, as it meant putting oneself in early contention.

Just six of 72 players were in red after the opening round of the ANNIKA Invitational USA, and in fact there were more scores in the 80s (12) than ones sub-par.

England’s Annabell Fuller led the way on a windy day despite an opening bogey. She would birdie two of her next three holes and add two more on the way to a 3-under 69 and a one-shot lead with 36 holes to play.

Fuller, No. 62 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, competed in the Junior Ryder Cup in September but didn’t play in another event until last week’s Harder Hall Invitational.

The rust didn’t show, as she posted an impressive T-3.

Fuller said strong iron play has been key in her fast start to 2019 but that work over the previous months on her pitching and putting was also important.

It showed on her final hole when she blasted a difficult greenside bunker shot to 3 feet and rolled that in for a clutch closing par.

The Class of 2020 prospect could be on the way to knocking off a huge goal early in the year, too.

“My aim is to try to win a big tournament this year,” Fuller said. “So hopefully this week.”

Yuka Saso and Lexanne Halama are tied for second at 2 under. Nicole Whiston, Valentina Rossi and Mika Jin are at 1 under and T-4.

Defending champion Angelina Ye chipped in for eagle at the par-5 eighth on the way to an opening 4-under 32 but came home in 40 (including a bogey-bogey finish) to find herself T-7 at even par.

Ye felt she underestimated the strength of the wind as it picked up on the back nine and that mental errors came into play as well. The Stanford signee felt comfortable with her technical game, but the mental game held her back on Day 1.

“The last two holes, I just kind of got a little bit exasperated, a little impatient with myself, which I think is the real mistake (at this course),” Ye said.

If that gets cleaned up, though, she could be well on her way to a title defense.

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