LPGA Mizuho Round 1

Story posted June 1, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Amanda Vogt

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The LPGA is experiencing Liberty (National) and justice for all in its second New Jersey tournament of 2023.

On a course that hosted several PGA Northern Trusts and the 2017 Presidents Cup, the female professionals finally got their crack at Liberty National.

The Mizuho Americas Open marked its presence on the LPGA schedule as an inaugural event — the second of four total additions this season. Michelle Wie West, who stepped away from full-time competition last year, is the tournament host who holds a strong passion and vision for the advancement of women’s golf.

In turn, 24 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) players will join the 120 LPGA members in the two concurrent events being held this week.

“I think this week will change a lot of lives,” Wie West said Tuesday. “It’s one thing for girls to watch other women on TV. It’s another thing to watch them in person outside the ropes. And a whole ‘nother thing to watch other women inside the ropes, competing alongside them.”

The juniors are playing in a Stableford format where they receive points based on how they score relative to par on each hole. No cut will be made after rounds one and two which differs from the LPGA which only has the top 50 and ties advancing to the weekend.

Liberty National dawns a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline with the Statue of Liberty standing just out of reach.

It appears that there is no true flat area on the course with its undulating fairways and greens. The unpredictability of Liberty National poses different challenges that differentiate it from Upper Montclair, where the Cognizant Founders Cup was hosted just a few weeks prior.

While it is still quite narrow off the tee, approach shots into these greens pose a greater threat to a player’s aggressiveness. Water comes into play quite a bit around most holes and harsh drop-offs on the green’s edges force precision and control.

Only the Hudson River divides the course from Manhattan’s hustle, but it freely sponsors swirling winds, adding another layer of uncertainty with each shot.

In the morning wave of tee times, when the wind wasn’t as fierce, Lauren Hartlage fired a career-low and bogey-free 65.

“So with golf, you got to just stay patient and positive, and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing,” Hartlage said after admitting how poorly she played at last week’s match play event in Las Vegas.

Aditi Ashok is only two back of the lead with Atthaya Thitkul and Stephanie Meadow tied for third.

Regardless, all eyes are on Rose Zhang, who is making her professional debut on a sponsor’s exemption. Earlier this year she won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur title, along with eight wins in her collegiate season at Stanford.

Her 12 total collegiate victories pushed her past Tiger Woods as the most wins by a Stanford player in school history.

Currently, Zhang sits at -2 under and is focusing on “stay[ing] composed” throughout the week, considering most of the attention has been directed her way.

There are still 54 holes left to play at Liberty National for the LPGA to leave its mark on a course that’s opened up its doors to them for the first time.

Amanda Vogt is a rising second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email amandaevogt@gmail.com.