MILWAUKEE — Casey Danielson's day began with a bang and ended on a positive note, too, but the Osceola native has some work to do if she wants to make a run at her first career Symetra Tour victory in her homestate.
Danielson eagled No. 10 to start her round and birdied No. 9 to end it during the first round of the PHC Classic. In between, she made two birdies and two bogeys en route to a 3-under-par 69 that put her in a share for 10th place, five shots behind leader Dottie Ardina of The Phillipines.
The opening round of the fourth annual event could not have gone better for Ardina. She turned in a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead after 18 holes at Brown Deer Park GC.
“It was one of those days that it’s perfect yardage,” said Ardina, who hit all 18 greens in regulation and only recorded 28 putts on the day. “No in between clubs, making a lot of putts, hitting it closer to the hole and having fun out there.”
Currently No. 1 in the Volvik Race for the Card, Ardina has positioned herself nicely for a weekend run at her first career Symetra Tour win. So far this season, she has finished solo second on two occasions and tied for second one other time.
Even with her spot in the rankings, Ardina is focused on that coveted first victory, which has eluded her this year. Could this be the week?
“The course is not too long for me,” Ardina said. “I hit a lot of 7-irons, which is like my comfortable approaching shot. The par-5s, even though my third shots are close from 80-85 yards, I’m really comfortable with the length of this course. It really suits my game.”
Meanwhile, Karolina Vlckova of The Czech Republic is just one shot behind Ardina. The former University of Florida standout has played in all 13 events this season, missing only two cuts along the way.
On this afternoon, Vlckova tied her season-best round of 7-under par 65, set in the first round of the Forsyth Classic where she went on to finish tied for 36th.
With the PHC Classic serving as the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship from Sept. 13-16 in Evian-les-Bains, France, the top-two finishers this week earn exemption into the fifth and final major on the LPGA Tour schedule. However, Vlckova has opted to remove her name from consideration for the invite if she were to maintain her spot on the leaderboard.
“I don’t want to miss any events because I want to give myself a chance to get full LPGA membership for 2019,” said Vlckova, currently No. 43 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “To play in The Evian Championship, I would have to miss two weeks. It’s not going to count toward my rankings, so if I want to give myself a chance for getting the card and being in the top-10, I need to play in at least five of the last six events. I earn my card then I can play next year.”
Also within striking distance is most recent Symetra Tour champion Kendall Dye of Edmond, Oklahoma. Dye is coming off her third career title on the official qualifying tour of the LPGA at the Fuccillo Kia Classic of New York.
She carded seven birdies and only one bogey on her way to a 6-under par 66 today, the best mark from the morning wave of competitors.
“I like to see my name at the top of the leaderboard for sure,” Dye said. “Confidence is everything. If you don’t have confidence, any course can be your worst enemy. These greens are way firmer and way faster than Albany, but when the cup looks like a basketball hoop then life is good. Hopefully we get another one.”
A total of 60 players sit at 1-under par or better entering Day 2, which begins at 7:30 a.m. CT. The field will be cut to the low 60 plus ties for the final round.