RICHMOND, VA—ODU rising sophomore Lauren Eklund (Charlottesville, VA.) advanced to the second round of match play at the 88th VSGA Women’s Amateur being conducted at the Country Club of Virginia’s Tuckahoe Creek Course. Eklund advanced to match play against Sophia Montenegro of Oakton, winning 3 and 2 to advance to the second round against the Kayleigh Reed, losing 6 and 4.
This is a day after Eklund registered the low round of qualifying, shooting a 5-under 67 which included a 30 on the front. Her two-round score of 144 is third best, trailing only Lyberty Anderson of Chesterfield and Abby Portyrata of North Chesterfield who both are at 142.
Wednesday’s session belonged to Eklund. Making putts from seemingly all angles and distances, she watched two early birdie chances fall and then ran off four more from Nos. 5-8 to shoot a scintillating bogey-free 6-under 30 on the first nine.
Her performance on the greens continued when Eklund accounted for two more birdies to start the second nine, completing a seven-hole stretch, Nos. 5-11, that she played in six under par to get to eight under for the day.
For Eklund, a bogey at No. 13 and a double bogey at the par-4 17th hole after hitting her fairway bunker shot in the water hazard fronting the green were her only two blemishes. Though she’s shot lower than 67 in her career, Eklund’s to-par aggregate of five under par is a personal competitive best. The putter was the difference.
“Wednesday was kind of surreal. Every putt I looked at, they were just going in, going in, going in. It was easy today—it came to me. I enjoyed every second of it. It’s like a blur, but it was fun,” said a wide-eyed Eklund. “I took the fear out of it today. It ended up being a great round.”
Even her fellow-competitors were in awe—and there was plenty of ’30-girl’ chatter around CCV as word of Eklund’s incredible front nine score spread.
“After she shot 30 on the front nine, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. She’s going to shoot in the 50s,’ ” laughed Sydney Hudson of Hopewell, who was in the same group of three with Eklund and Roanoke’s Meagan Board.
Eklund estimated that she used less than 25 putts on the layout’s slick putting surfaces and joked that she hopes a few more will still find a way to fall once match play starts.
“I putted lights out. I’m excited about that,” she said. “I was telling one of the girls I was playing with, ‘It’s a shame I made so many putts today because match play starts Thursday,’ but hopefully it will add to my confidence.”
Eklund improved her first round score by 10 strokes and the fed-up feeling she had following her opening day 77 was left to basically disintegrate in the summer heat. Having her older brother, Weston, as her caddie has admittedly been an ally; he’s an accomplished amateur player on the commonwealth golf stage in his own right.
“He’s taught me a lot and has really helped me the past couple of days with course management and really staying in the present,” Lauren said. “I know I wouldn’t have done it without him.”
RICHMOND––Results from the second round of stroke play qualifying at the 88th VSGA Women’s Amateur Championship at The Country Club of Virginia’s Tuckahoe Creek Course (5,897 yards, par 36-36—72) on Wednesday, July 10.
Lyberty Anderson (Chesterfield), 71-71—142
Abby Portyrata (North Chesterfield), 70-72—142
Lauren Eklund (Charlottesville), 77-67—144
Amanda Hollandsworth (Floyd), 74-71—145
Shabril Brewer (Fairfax), 71-75—146
Karishma Thiagaraj (Haymarket), 72-74—146
Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville), 73-74—147
Alex Wright (Midlothian), 74-75—149
Paige Reese (South Hill), 76-76—152
Lauren Kruszewski (Chesapeake), 78-74—152
Lyndsey Hunnell (Troutville), 76-78—154
Khushboo Thiagaraj (Haymarket), 75-81—156
Rachel Walker (Harrisonburg), 79-77—156
Kayleigh Reed (Virginia Beach), 72-85—157
Kristin Hearp (Salem), 79-78—157
Lindsay Wortham (Richmond), 81-77—158
Sydney Hudson (Hopewell), 77-81—158
Kelsey Solan (Lumberton, N.J.), 75-85—160
Meagan Board (Roanoke), 77-84—161
Jessica Merrill (Reston), 83-79—162
Michaela Conway (Chester), 79-84—163
Mimi Hoffman (Springfield), 82-83—165
Boodie McGurn (Richmond), 87-81—168
Mary Barbero (Fairfax Station), 85-83—168
Susan Podolsky (Alexandria), 81-90—171
Meredith Hopper (Ashland), 84-87—171
Yancey Harrison (Ruckersville), 89-82—171
Margaret McGehee (Richmond), 81-92—173
Sophia Montenegro (Oakton), 83-92—175
Sarah Baldwin (New Kent), 90-85—175
Amellia Boyer (Suffolk), 86-90—176
Megan Stiles (Falls Church), 85-91—176