First Round Recap
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
Friday, June 27, 2014
Canada’s Alena Sharp shot a 6-under 65 on Friday to take the first-round lead at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie and Alejandra Llaneza of Mexico trail the lead by one shot. Sharp’ s round of 65 ties her low round of the year and leads after the first round for the first time in her career. She described her round which included seven birdies and one bogey as ‘simple and relaxed.’
“Yeah, hit a lot of greens today, I only missed four greens,” said Sharp. “Drove it well, wasn’t really in the rough at all so I got to lift, clean and place so got a perfect lie almost every time. Really didn’t hit outside of 20 feet much, made a lot of putts. It was really simple. It was fun to just play and not be stressed, and just relax and enjoy the day.”
Sharp has made five previous appearances at the event and her previous best finish was a T54 in 2009. She said being familiar with the track at Pinnacle Country Club made her work around the greens on Friday easier.
“And the greens are so perfect,” said Sharp. “I mean, they’re rolling so smooth, it’s almost like no one’s played on the greens at all. There’s hardly any divots on them. I think knowing the breaks helps, yeah. And then I got the speed down right away which was perfect. It’s hard to get the judge of the speed this week with all the rain that we’ve had, but it’s in great shape for all the rain that’s fallen here this week.”
Rogers received nearly two inches of rain over the past five days, but Sharp said her length off the tee helped her with the soft conditions. Sharp is ranked seventh on Tour in average driving distance with an 268.6 yard average.
“Well, I drive it fairly far so I knew it was a little bit of an advantage carrying it further than some of the other girls,” said Sharp. “But it wasn’t playing as long as I thought it would because the wind is not easy either.”
Wie, who arrived in Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon from a media tour in New York City following her first major championship win, said she started running out of gas on the back nine but was glad to be back playing again.
“Definitely running on fumes right now but I’m excited to be here in Arkansas,” said Wie. “The crowds are amazing. Just feels great to play golf again.”
Wie has missed the cut at this event the past three years but had a runner-up finish in 2010. She had a bogey-free round with five birdies and said she was grateful for the weather holding up yesterday to allow her to get in a full 18 holes in before Friday.
“I think, you know, I got lucky to play 18 holes yesterday in the pro‑am,” said Wie. “The weather definitely held up, which is nice.”
Wie said the positive momentum from Pinehurst definitely carried over into this week but has high concern for logging more hours of sleep.
“It definitely gave me confidence to play today,” said Wie. “But definitely it would have been harder if I had a morning tee time today. I was really happy about this late afternoon tee time. Glad to sleep in, got my 12 hours of sleep, and hopefully I’ll get to bed in about an hour and a half now.”
University of Arkansas alum and world No. 1 Stacy Lewis shot a 1-under 70 and is in a tie for 43rd and five shots off the lead. Defending champ and world No. 2 Inbee Park was one shot better with a 69 and is T25 after 18 holes.