Results from Day One of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club

Major pressure and heat don’t stop low scores in opening round of historic tournament

Tournament leader Jenny Shin said she was “freaking out” before the first round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship yesterday at Westchester Country Club, so she had a serious talk with her psychologist. “I started the round feeling a little uncertain,” she said before adding, “I tried to play as comfortable as I can, just like any other tournament.” The comfort paid off with a seven-under-par 66 that gave her a one-stroke lead over Canadian Brooke Henderson.

Fifty-seven players posted under-par rounds on the course that many feared might be too long and too treacherous for women players. The pros proved them wrong in decisive fashion.

Shin carded five birdies and an eagle, hit 13 of 14 fairways, and had an average driving distance of 269 yards — pretty impressive for someone who’s only 5’4” tall.

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Seventeen-year-old Henderson didn’t have much trouble with the course, either. She pulled off a couple of championship-level up-and-downs and hit a 204-yard seven-wood from an ugly lie to set up an eagle putt on the 475-yard 12th hole. The Canadian phenom is playing on the LPGA tour this year without any status (the tour denied her request last year to waive its 18-year-old minimum age rule for Q-school).

The players took advantage of the par fives and what some considered slightly slower-than-expected green speeds to go low on Thursday. A big question is how the PGA of America changes the course set-up as the tournament moves into the weekend. At the beginning, the rough was thick but not as deep as the course usually plays for members. With a little water and restricted mowing, the Saturday and Sunday rounds could be played on a much harder golf course.

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