The Sonic Women’s City Championship has a different feel for Kathryn Miranda this week.
Miranda, a Lexington native and recent College of Charleston graduate, entered this year’s tournament as the reigning champion, and finished the first day with a one-over 73 at Spring Valley Country Club.
“It was a good day,” Miranda said. “I’ve always loved playing in the City, and it felt great to be back out there.
“It does have a little different feel being the defending champion, and I’m enjoying that,” she said.
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Miranda shot a 34 on the back nine, with birdies on the par-5 11th and 429-yard 14th holes.
“I like the course set up, and I think it suits my game well,” Miranda said of the hilly Spring Valley course. “I hit the ball really well today. Hopefully, more putts will fall tomorrow.”
Auburn-bound Lugoff-Elgin graduate Kelli Murphy scored an even 72 to lead the first round of the 54-hole tournament.
Murphy, who strung together three consecutive tournament wins from 2010-13 and came in second to Miranda by two strokes in 2014, made her lead on the front nine.
After bogeying the par-4 No. 1 hole, Murphy scored birdies on the No. 2 and par-3 No. 3 holes. She picked up another birdie on the sixth green, but bogeyed the par-5 ninth after going out of bounds. With two bogeys on the way in, Murphy finished one-over on the back, setting up a close competition for day two.
“I’m familiar with the course. It’s where I played my first Women’s City tournament, and I felt good going out there,” Murphy said. She said she enjoyed the fast-paced game she and Miranda played, although she will be looking to limit her mental mistakes in the remaining rounds.
“My putting felt really solid today, so I’m hoping that will stay consistent, and I made some mental mistakes that shouldn’t happen had I been more focused,” Murphy said. “But I feel OK about that kind of mistake, because it can be corrected tomorrow.”
For Murphy, the excitement of playing in the women’s tournament is not about reclaiming the title, but about getting in quality playing time with opponents who feel like friends.
“It’s nice to be back out there, because I only see these ladies one time a year. It’s good to get out there and be in a supportive environment and have a good time for three days,” Murphy said.
Leigh Coulter stands in third after shooting a 76.
The tournament resumes on Wednesday and will crown its champion on Thursday.
Murphy, Kelli 35-37—72
Miranda, Kathryn 39-34—73
Coulter, Leigh 36-40—76
Shealy, Catherine 38-39—77
Atkinson, Jeanie 40-40—80
Fournil, Cecilia 38-43—81
Hamrick, Christine 40-41—81
Givens, Louise 41-42—83
Huff, Natalie 42-42—84
Bartley, Suzann 40-47—87
Snider, Julie 43-48—91
Bryant, Madison 44-47—91
Holmes, Lynn 45-48—93