PINE NEEDLES, N.C. — Becky Iverson spoke for the Wisconsin contingent at the U.S. Senior Women's Open, even the three who found themselves inside the top 10, when she summed up an interesting Thursday this way:
"The greens are extremely difficult and I feel like I survived Day 1," the director of golf at Bridges Golf Course in Madison wrote via text message to Wisconsin.golf after her opening-round 75 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club left her in a tie for eighth place after 18 holes of the second annual event.
Iverson, a former LPGA Tour player, was tied with nine other golfers at 3-over-par, including Appleton's Sue Ginter and Carolyn Barnett-Howe and defending champions Laura Davies. They were just two shots behind first-round leader Danielle Ammaccapane on a day in which 56 of the 120 golfers age 50 and older broke 80, but only 17 of them shot 75 or better.
Ginter, 53, who now lives in Jupiter, Florida, was 2-over after making one birdie and three bogeys over her first 16 holes. But the former LPGA golfer finished bogey-bogey to slip from a tie for second into the group at 4-over.
"Overall, I felt good about the way I played," Ginter wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.golf. "Of course, it would have been nice to finish strong, but I would rather look at the round as a whole."
Indeed, the greens became firm and fast and putting became an adventure. Ammaccapane told reporters she had "a lot of three-putts" in a round that featured six birdies, five bogeys and one double-bogey. Davies reported she had two four-putts in her round of 75, but took her struggles in stride.
"It's a shame the scoring is not going to be better," Davies said. "If the course speeds up I'm thinking double figures over is going to win it. It could easily be that. It's that hard. You have to remember, you've got a field of 50-plus-year-old ladies and only probably five or six of us play full time still."
It was a bumpy ride for each of the five Wisconsin golfers in the field.
Iverson made four bogeys on the front nine to turn in 39, picked up two birdies at Nos. 11 and 13 and then bogeyed Nos. 14 and 16 coming in. Barnett-Howe, a teaching professional from the Fox Valley, triple-bogeyed the par-5 first hole starting her round and played her next 14 holes in 2-under before going bogey/double/par to finish her round.
"My caddie and I talked about playing conservatively and staying patient," Ginter wrote after starting on the back nine and making eight pars around a bogey at the par-3 13th hole. She birdied No. 10 to get back to even-par, but then bogeyed Nos. 2, 4, 8 and 9.
"Hopefully, I will become more familiar with how the course is playing. (I) just want to stay focused and swing freely."
Former LPGA Tour player Martha Nause of Sheboygan and Cumberland amateur Leigh Klasse both shot 81s.