FORT MYERS, Fla., April 17, 2015 – Brianna Do (Lakewood, Calif.) posted a tournament record 6-under 66 to vault from a tie for 35th to a share of the 36-hole lead at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial on Friday. Emma de Groot (Coffs Harbour, Australia) carded a 2-under 70 to match Do at 6-under 138 for the tournament. Augusta James (Kingston, Ontario) is one shot back at 5-under 139. There are five players tied for fourth at 4-under 140.
The cut was made at 1-over-par and 55 Symetra Tour professionals will join 30 Legends Tour players on Saturday and Sunday. Players from both Tours will compete for separate $150,000 tournament purses.
Do, who currently ranks sixth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, tied the best round of her professional career. She made five birdies, an eagle on hole seven and just one bogey on the day.
“It was awesome today,” said Do, who had pedestrian even-par 72 on day one. “What kick started my birdie fest was the eagle on hole seven, so that was fun.”
After the eagle on seven, Do birdied number eight and then made par on nine. She hit the ground running on the back nine with three consecutive birdies on 10, 11 and 12.
“I just hit it well and I hit it close,” said Do about her stretch of birdies. “I actually could have made the next three also. Kendall Wright, who I was playing with, said ‘if you could only putt on the back nine’ because I had a few lip out so I could have gone lower, but I am saving those for the weekend.”
This is the first four round event of the year and Do says Saturday will be a little different.
“Usually tomorrow would be our last day, but since this is a four day event it is moving day so it is anyones game,” said the former UCLA golfer Do. “I’m going to keep playing how I’m playing and hopefully the putts drop.”
Do has been the most consistent player on the Symetra Tour. She is the only player on Tour that has finished in the top 10 in each of the first three events. She has seven career top 10 finishes on Tour.
“I worked with my coach during the offseason and I know if the ball is going too far left what to fix and if the ball is going too far right what to fix,” said Do. “I just have a better understanding of my swing and where the ball is going. I’ve also seen a lot of improvement in my putting.”
Do has seven career top 10 results on the Symetra Tour, but is craving the chance to hoist a trophy.
“I want it real bad (a win),” said Do. “If I get that W this week it would be one step closer to securing my LPGA card at the end of the year. It’s still early in the year, but a win would be a big boost.”
TWO ACES ON HOLE SIX: There were two aces on hole six on Friday at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. Luciane Lee and Carmen Bandea both carded a hole-in-one.
Lee posted a 5-under 67 to move up from T61 to a tie for ninth. Bandea carded a 74 on Friday and missed the cut at 7-over.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a Kia Optima on hole six. The first Symetra Tour or Legends Tour player to make a hole-in-one will win the Kia Optima courtesy of Chico’s and Fuccillo Kia.
DE GROOT GETTING MENTORING FROM KARRIE WEBB: When de Groot walked off the course on Thursday after a 4-under 68, she checked her phone and saw a text message from fellow Aussie and LPGA star Karrie Webb. When she was walking towards the media center after a 2-under 70 on Friday, she had another text message from Webb.
“Karrie Webb is great with the younger generation of Australian professionals,” said de Groot. “She is one of the all-time LPGA greats and she is great to have as a mentor to talk to and play with.”
Webb is a 41-time LPGA Tour winner including seven major championships.
de Groot has one career top 10 finish and will be looking for her first win.
AUGUSTA JAMES STEADY THROUGH 36: Augusta James (Kingston, Ontario) has made just one mistake after two days of the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. She has six birdies and only one bogey through 36-holes. James carded a 2-under 70 on Friday to move from a tie for seventh to solo third.
“I finished strong, which is one thing I am really focusing on out there and something I was taught to do in college golf a lot,” said James, who played for three years at N.C. State. “I didn’t have the putts drop in the beginning of the round so I knew it was important to close.”
The 2014 Canadian Women’s Golf Amateur champion made a birdie and a bogey on the front nine. She carded two birdies on the back nine including a big one on the 17th hole.
“The club selection off the tee was important, my caddie and I talked a lot about which hybrid to hit,” said James. “I’m happy with the club selection because that is what set up the putt.”
James, who was born on the first-round of the 1993 Masters Tournament, has experience being in contention. The three-time All-ACC selection posted seven top 20 finishes in 2013-14 at N.C. State.
“Through amateur golf, I’ve had a few sleeps where I was in the lead so I am just going to draw on past experiences and focus on what I can control,” said James.
James is excited to get the opportunity to play with one of the top players on the Legends Tour on Saturday.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with one of the legends,” said James. “You can’t ask for a better opportunity especially as we are coming up the ranks towards the LPGA.”
Two Legends Tour players that James has looked up to are Lorie Kane and Gail Graham.
“Lorie is a fantastic human being and always comes up to Team Canada when I was on the team as an amateur, she would always chat with us and give us tips,” said James. “Gail is very active in growing golf and that is what everyone should be active in and I hope to do that as well.”
NANCY LOPEZ TALKS POSITIVELY ABOUT TOUR, WOMEN’S GOLF: Nancy Lopez spent her first morning in Fort Myers doing media interviews. She was on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive at the course and then held court in the media center with the local Fort Myers media.
She spoke about a wide array of topics including what she hopes to instill in the Symetra Tour players this week.
“Sometimes when the younger generation players miss hit shots you can see the body language change and you want them to be able to get over it,” said the 48-time winner. “My dad used to tell me that it is all about what you do on the next shot. When you become the best and you have a bad hole, you still have to walk off that hole believing you are the best.”
Lopez also spoke about the state of the LPGA Tour.
“Mike Whan has done a great job, the players are out there playing the game and they are beautiful and they have a lot of class and style,” said Lopez, who won her first professional event in Sarasota. “The Symetra Tour, with great sponsors like Chico’s, is great for our Tour.”
Lopez said it is “definitely a feather in our caps to be able to compete in a tournament like this” when talking about the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial.
SYMETRA TOUR PLAYER ON NEW GOLF CHANNEL SHOW: It was announced Friday that Symetra Tour rookie Milena Savich is going be a contestant on Golf Channel’s new show Altered Course. She will be teamed with her sister Ariana Savich, who played golf at Missouri and is a current employee at the LPGA Tour.
Savich played college golf at the University of Georgia.
“I’m thrilled be teaming up with my sister on Altered Course,” said Milena Savich. “Golf and fitness are my two favorite things so to be able to combine them and compete on television is awesome. The fact that we get to do it together is just as awesome.”