Walmart NW Arkansas Championship R1

Inbee Park's short-game back on track

June 28-30
Pinnacle Country Club, Roger, Arkansas
$2,000,000
Round 2, Round 3


Inbee Park lit up the back nine at Pinnacle Country Club on Friday, going out in 29 with five consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 through 15 and birdieing No. 18. Park was on track to become the second female professional to break 60, joining Annika Sorenstam but fell short by three strokes, still making birdie on holes No. 1, 3 and 7 for a bogey-free first-round 62.


“I think pretty much after the front 9, that 59 was on the watch,” said Park, who is one stroke in the lead going into the second round. “But I tried to make as many birdies as possible on the front nine, but it’s playing tougher with a few tees moved back, and I had a couple of opportunities missed, but I think I still played really good out there today.”

Park self-professes that her putter hasn’t been hot in recent years but today’s round showed otherwise – she made just 12 putts on the back nine and 14 on the front.

“For a couple of years or so I have been missing a lot of short putts that really I wasn’t really getting used to that, and I don’t want to get used to that at all,” said Park who is currently ranked 39th on Tour in putts per round. “I was just trying to be patient and trying to wait for the day that’s to come. I know I have a good feel on the putter, and it just wasn’t going in the last couple of years or so. I was really waiting for this moment and hopefully I can keep this going.”

The 30-year-old from Republic of Korea is searching for her 20th win on the LPGA Tour and she is $4,995 shy of reaching the $15 million mark in career earnings. 


Creamer makes a hot start

Thirty-two-year-old Paula Creamer carded an 8-under 63 on Friday, going out in 29 with six birdies and coming back on the front nine with four birdies and a bogey on the par-3 6th. Creamer is making her 10th start of the Walmart NWA Championship but it isn’t her experience around Pinnacle Country Club that helped her make a hot start, it was the work of her team this season.


“My team, we’ve been working hard on my golf, and it was awesome to go out today and give everybody a pat on the back and say, ‘okay we’re heading in the right direction’ today,” said Creamer. “I’ve been working a lot on my putting and it seems to be paying off. My short game has been pretty good these last several months but driving the ball and giving myself the opportunities is something we have been really trying to clean up. It was a little bit messy there for a while and now I feel like we have it under control, so that’s a big bonus for us.”

Creamer has had a difficult season, missing six cuts in her 10 starts leading up to the week in Rogers, Ark. Her first-round 63 is three strokes better than her previous best at Pinnacle Country Club and the 10-time LPGA winner doesn’t plan on letting up any steam heading into the weekend.

“I want to keep the pedal down. I know I’m playing well—just to feel that, trust myself, trust my instincts and believe I can do it,” said Paula confidently. “I’ll play early tomorrow so hopefully keep that momentum going.” 


Santiwiwatthanaphong pushes through pain to record career-best round

Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong hurt her shoulder during the practice round and the pain caused her to change her approach to the first round, relying on her putter because she could not hit as long. She then went out Friday morning and shot 10 birdies en route to an 8-under 63 at the Walmart NWA Championship, the best 18-hole score of her three-year LPGA Tour career.

“I just tried to hit, like, fairway, green, and my putter was working,” said Santiwiwatthanaphong. “Even long putt I’m not as good to get in, it dropped. I was like ‘Okay, thank you.’”

Santiwiwatthanaphong said the round boosted her confidence in her play, aided by her support system. “The friends around me, they just say ‘keep practicing.’ Like last week I was practice round with Eun-Hee [Ji], and she was like, ‘Yeah, you hit it pretty good,’ and I said yeah, and she said keep practicing. And my family is just like, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’”

Santiwiwatthanaphong said her strategy tomorrow is to try and play the same as today. “I can sleep in, because I like to sleep,” she said. “Just get up and play. Try to enjoy it.”


Razorback recap

Three Arkansas Razorbacks returned to the Pinnacle Golf Club and played for the first time at the Walmart NWA Championship as professionals: Maria Fassi , Alana Uriell and Kaylee Benton . After the first round, all three were ecstatic to be back in front of the community as they continue their pro journeys.

“It’s very exciting to come back home now as a professional. I mean, to see my people and to see everyone who supports the Razorbacks, it’s very exciting and they’re as happy as I am to be here,” said Fassi.

“It’s been what I’ve been looking forward to since I got my card honestly. It’s really great to have the support of my Razorbacks and be out here on a course that feels pretty normal for me,” said Uriell.

“It was really fun,” said Benton. “It was a little bit more similar to amateur golf than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t really change my mind set the at all, had fun with Shauna [Taylor] on the bag and had a good time with my group. Overall, it was fun.”

Gaby Lopez sits atop the Razorback leaderboard at -4 while Stacy Lewis is close behind -3. Fassi shot a first round 70, with Uriell and Benton finishing with a 71. Amateur Dylan Kim ended the first round 7-over par.

Ciganda takes advantage of morning start

As temperatures rose at the Pinnacle Golf Club, so did Carlota Ciganda ‘s birdie count. Ciganda sank three in her first three holes, then added six more during the first round to finish one stroke shy of leader Inbee Park at -8. The Spaniard only needed 26 putts to get it done, and hit 16 of 18 greens.

“I think in the mornings the greens are nicer because not many people have played, you can roll the ball better, so I think you have to shoot a low one in the morning. In the afternoon you have to be more patient, the wind picks up more,” said Ciganda. “You can shoot a low score here, lots of birdies, and we will see what happens tomorrow.”

Ciganda’s 63 tied her career-best 18-hole score, the third time she recorded this season. It is also the lowest she has gone after one round in her Walmart NW Arkansas Championship history.

Teeing off tomorrow at 12:59 p.m., Ciganda hopes to keep her putter hot during the second round. “It will be tough to do something the same, because I made a lot of putts, and not every day you make lots of putts,” said Ciganda. “What I’m going to try to do is I hit 16 greens today, so I think if I hit 16 greens tomorrow, I will have a chance on Sunday.”

Quick Hits

  • Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong led the field in birdies with 10
  • Inbee Park ‘s first-round 62 is the lowest round of any player this season on a par-71 course
  • 10 players went bogey-free – Inbee Park , Ariya Jutanugarn , Annie Park, Maria Torres, Katherine Perry, Aditi Ashok, Kendall Dye, Gulia Molinaro , In Gee Chun and Peiyun Chien
  • 87 players recorded rounds under par
  • There were five eagles from five different players – Maria Torres, Jin Young Ko, Sung Hyun Park, Sei Young Kim and Laetitia Beck
  • Defending champion Nasa Hataoka fired a 6-under par 65 on Friday
  • 20 players in the top 20 represent 12 different countries (Republic of Korea, Thailand, Spain, USA, Puerto Rico, Japan, India, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, Sweden, Ecuador, Germany)

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
1
Inbee Park
-9
62
T2
Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong
-8
63
T2
Carlota Ciganda
-8
63
T2
Paula Creamer
-8
63
T5
Ariya Jutanugarn
-7
64
T5
Annie Park
-7
64
T5
Maria Torres
-7
64
T8
Nasa Hataoka
-6
65
T8
Jin Young Ko
-6
65
T8
Marina Alex
-6
65
T8
Jenny Shin
-6
65
T8
Katherine Perry
-6
65
T13
Linnea Strom
-5
66
T13
Brittany Altomare
-5
66
T13
Sung Hyun Park
-5
66
T13
Daniela Darquea
-5
66
T13
Lauren Kim
-5
66
T13
Sandra Gal
-5
66
T13
Aditi Ashok
-5
66
T13
Ashleigh Buhai
-5
66
T13
Wei-Ling Hsu
-5
66
T22
Giulia Molinaro
-4
67
T22
Pavarisa Yoktuan
-4
67
T22
Lizette Salas
-4
67
T22
Mariah Stackhouse
-4
67
T22
Jacqui Concolino
-4
67
T22
Jasmine Suwannapura
-4
67
T22
Hyo Joo Kim
-4
67
T22
Gaby Lopez
-4
67
T22
Kendall Dye
-4
67
T22
Stephanie Meadow
-4
67
T32
P.K. Kongkraphan
-3
68
T32
Peiyun Chien
-3
68
T32
Stacy Lewis
-3
68
T32
Minjee Lee
-3
68
T32
Mel Reid
-3
68
T32
Shanshan Feng
-3
68
T32
Georgia Hall
-3
68
T32
So Yeon Ryu
-3
68
T32
In Gee Chun
-3
68
T32
Mi Hyang Lee
-3
68
T32
Anna Nordqvist
-3
68
T32
Amy Yang
-3
68
T32
Danielle Kang
-3
68
T32
Cristie Kerr
-3
68
T32
Sei Young Kim
-3
68
T32
Mirim Lee
-3
68
T32
Austin Ernst
-3
68
T32
Isi Gabsa
-3
68
T32
Mi Jung Hur
-3
68
T32
Katherine Kirk
-3
68
T32
Jennifer Song
-3
68
T32
Mo Martin
-3
68
T54
Kristen Gillman
-2
69
T54
Jessica Korda
-2
69
T54
Brooke M. Henderson
-2
69
T54
Lydia Ko
-2
69
T54
Pornanong Phatlum
-2
69
T54
Laetitia Beck
-2
69
T54
Cheyenne Knight
-2
69
T54
Tiffany Chan
-2
69
T54
Louise Ridderstrom
-2
69
T54
Yu Liu
-2
69
T54
Bronte Law
-2
69
T54
Nicole Broch Larsen
-2
69
T54
Ryann O’Toole
-2
69
T67
Sarah Burnham
-1
70
T67
Maria Fassi
-1
70
T67
Wichanee Meechai
-1
70
T67
Megan Khang
-1
70
T67
Mina Harigae
-1
70
T67
Charlotte Thomas
-1
70
T67
Kim Kaufman
-1
70
T67
Marissa Steen
-1
70
T67
Jane Park
-1
70
T67
Laura Gonzalez Escallon
-1
70
T67
Clariss Guce
-1
70
T67
Karine Icher
-1
70
T67
Sarah Kemp
-1
70
T67
Jeong Eun Lee
-1
70
T67
Dottie Ardina
-1
70
T67
Azahara Munoz
-1
70
T67
Celine Boutier
-1
70
T67
Angela Stanford
-1
70
T67
Hee Young Park
-1
70
T67
Haru Nomura
-1
70
T67
Chella Choi
-1
70
T88
Luna Sobron Galmes
E
71
T88
Alana Uriell
E
71
T88
Jodi Ewart Shadoff
E
71
T88
Morgan Pressel
E
71
T88
Kaylee Benton
E
71
T88
Xiyu Lin
E
71
T88
Dani Holmqvist
E
71
T88
Sarah Schmelzel
E
71
T88
Pajaree Anannarukarn
E
71
T88
Ayako Uehara
E
71
T88
Moriya Jutanugarn
E
71
T88
Angel Yin
E
71
T88
Anne van Dam
E
71
T101
Youngin Chun
1
72
T101
Elizabeth Szokol
1
72
T101
Lauren Stephenson
1
72
T101
In-Kyung Kim
1
72
T101
Ally McDonald
1
72
T101
Brittany Lang
1
72
T101
Lindsey Weaver
1
72
T101
Tiffany Joh
1
72
T101
Jing Yan
1
72
T101
Maddie McCrary
1
72
T101
Haeji Kang
1
72
T101
Jaclyn Lee
1
72
T101
Eun-Hee Ji
1
72
T101
Na Yeon Choi
1
72
T101
Juli Inkster
1
72
T101
Emma Talley
1
72
T101
Mariajo Uribe
1
72
T118
Dori Carter
2
73
T118
Natalie Gulbis
2
73
T118
Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras
2
73
T118
Celine Herbin
2
73
T118
Becca Huffer
2
73
T118
Cheyenne Woods
2
73
T118
Lee-Anne Pace
2
73
T118
Lindy Duncan
2
73
T118
Alison Lee
2
73
T118
Robyn Choi
2
73
T118
Brittany Marchand
2
73
T118
Louise Stahle
2
73
T118
Brianna Do
2
73
T131
Christina Kim
3
74
T131
Charley Hull
3
74
T131
Kris Tamulis
3
74
T131
Lilia Vu
3
74
T131
Pernilla Lindberg
3
74
T131
Gemma Dryburgh
3
74
T131
Karen Chung
3
74
T131
Sakura Yokomine
3
74
139
Gerina Piller
4
75
T140
Dylan Kim (a)
5
76
T140
Muni He
5
76
T142
Jenny Haglund
6
77
T142
Ruixin Liu
6
77
144
Suzuka Yamaguchi
7
78
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