Boonsboro Country Club’s practice putting green, located between the first tee and the eighth green, was particularly busy throughout Sunday’s opening round of The Donna Andrews Invitational.
Most of the 59 golfers who attacked the lengthy course needed ample putts to complete their rounds, with the undulating greens playing firm and fast on the sun-splashed afternoon.
Lauren Greenlief, however, took advantage of her early tee time to work on other aspects of her game once her round was completed. The putting was perfectly fine in her opening round.
Greenlief, a four-time Virginia State Golf Association women’s player of the year, capitalized on strong work on the greens to shoot a 3- under-par 69, and she holds a one-shot lead over Nicole Adam heading into the second round.
“The putter was pretty good,” Greenlief said of her three-birdie, one-bogey round. “I had no three-putts and made a couple of putts that had a bunch of breaks.”
Greenlief birdied No. 1 and then rattled off eight straight pars in a consistent opening nine holes. The Ashburn resident then birdied Nos. 10, 13 and 16 to get to 4 under but two-putted for bogey at the par-3 17th to fall back to 3 under.
She had a difficult downhill putt for birdie at No. 18 and got that putt to within a foot for par to finish her round.
The 18th hole was the most difficult to play Sunday. The par 4 finished at a 5.0 average with zero birdies, 23 bogeys and 15 double-bogeys.
“I had some reasonable looks today where I was putting from below the hole. Then when I was above the hole, like on 18, you just have to play a ton of break out here and just trust that the ball is going to feed back,” Greenlief said. “Because if you start playing less break, the ball’s really going to run away from you.”
Adam, a rising senior at The O’Neal School in Southern Pines, North Carolina, made four birdies and two bogeys. She hit 17 greens in regulation but needed 30 putts with how challenging the greens were playing.
“It makes me feel like there are more opportunities for birdies,” she said.
Adam has verbally committed to the University of North Carolina and recently won the Carolinas Junior PGA Championship to secure a berth into the National Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course in Windsor, Connecticut, on July 9 through 12.
Kent State rising senior Marissa Kirkwood and Radford University rising junior Sidney Walker are tied for third at 1 under.
Kirkwood briefly held the overall lead at 4 under following her birdie at the par-5 10th. However, she bogeyed the next three holes and converted her par chances during the final five holes.
“The green firmness definitely played a role in just calculating where I wanted to hit the ball onto the green, especially on the par 5s,” she said. “Even though I can get to most of them in two with those longer clubs, it’s harder to hold these greens. It definitely made it a little difficult.”
Kirkwood took advantage of her chances at the four par 5s with two birdies (Nos. 3 and 10), one eagle at No. 1 and a par at No. 16.
“The biggest part of my game and kind of my game plan going into this was take advantage of the par 5s,” Kirkwood said. “Eagling the first hole kind of gave me a lot of good momentum, and I just tried to ride that.”
Walker birdied her first two holes and then converted her birdie attempt at No. 6 to get to 3 under. She bogeyed the ninth and 11th, then went birdie-bogey at Nos. 16 and 17 to finish her round with only 26 putts.
“It’s just about keeping my momentum and hitting greens, making putts,” she said, “and I think I was able to definitely avoid the slopes on the greens. I had a lot of flat putts.”
Grace Huffman is at 1 over, and Skylar Sload is at 2 over.
Alexis Florio made a round-high five birdies but also had eight bogeys to finish at 3 over and in a tie for seventh.
Megan Kanady shot a 6-over 78 and leads the junior division by two strokes over Ester Choi and Noelia Adkins.
Joan Gardner leads the senior division by two shots over Linda DiVall and Meg Gilmer after shooting a 2-over 74.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.