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Chen uses historic round to lead Island Resort Championship after day one

Anne Chen follows through on a tee shot during day one of the 2024 Island Resort Championship presented by Delta County Chamber on June 21, 2024 in Harris, Mi. (Courtesy photo Epson Tour)

HARRIS –Rain was in the forecast entering day one of the 2024 Island Resort Championship. But what no one forecasted what Anne Chen would do in her first round.

Chen, who recently completed her senior season of golf at Duke University, earned a score -9 (63) to enter Saturday’s second round in first place. The -9 (63) is the lowest ever by a Duke golfer on the Epson Tour and tied the event record. Morgane Metraux accomplished the feat during her second round in 2021. Metraux went on to win the tournament in 2021.

“Maybe Anne follows in those footsteps and gets it done, But there’s still a lot of golf to be had” Espon Tour Coordinator Luke Otto said. “We’re excited that we were able to see that 63 out here today. It’s been a few years. We’re just really excited that Anne was able to do that today.”

Chen, a rookie on the Epson Tour, earned birdies on hole No. 1, 4, 6, 7 and 9 to shoot 31 on the front nine and birdied holes No. 11, 12, 14 and 18 for a 32 on the back nine. Chen also hit 11 of 14 fairways, hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation, averaged 265 yards off the tee box and had a total of 24 putts.

Chen entered the event tied for 148th place for the season. The top 15 at the end of the 2024 season will make the jump to the LPGA in 2025.

But her lead is not large.

Kim Kaufman, an Epson Tour member since 2013, sits two strokes back at -7 (65). She hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation while putting 26 times. Kaufman currently sits sixth in tour standings

Saki Baba and Min Lee returned to the clubhouse tied for third place at -6 (66). Baba, 31st in the standings, hit 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation and had an average drive distance of 270 yards while totaling 27 putts. Lee, unranked in the standings, also hit 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation, finished with 27 putts and averaged 262 yards off the tee box.

Vicky Hurst, Ashley Lau, Dorsey Addicks, Ou Olankitkunchai, Soo Bin Joo, Sarah White and Maddie Szeryk are in a six-way tie for fifth place after each finished -5 (67).Hurst, unranked, bogyed No. 2, but nearned birdies on hole No. 5, 9, 15 and 17 before earring an eagle on No. 18. Lau (69th) hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and averaged 276 yards off the tee. Addicks (63rd) hit 13 of 14 fairways,

15 of 18 greens in regulation, tallied 28 putts and averaged 280 yards off the tee box.

Olankitkunchai, a rookie on the tour and currently sits 43rd in the standings, hit 13 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and tallied 28 putts. Joo (40th) totaled eight birdies, a bogey on the par 3 No. 7 and a double bogey on the par 3 No. 15. She hit 13 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens in regulation and totaled 27 putts.

White, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan and 92nd in the standings, bogeyed hole No. 5 and 10, but earned birdies on No. 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 17 and 18.

White hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation, hit 11 of 14 fairways, accumulated 30 putts and averaged 301 yards off the tee box.

Szyerk, sitting tied for 140th in the standings, ht 13 of 14 fairways, 17 of 18 greens in regulation and totaled 30 putts. She earned back-to-back bogeys on hole No. 7 and 8, but birdied hole No. 3, 5, 9, 10, 14, 16 and 18.

There’s a 12-way tie for 12th place at -4 (68), 18 golfers tied for 24th at -3 (69) and a total of 83 golfers under par after day one.

“The field is a little deeper this week,” Otto said. ” We’re coincided with a LPGA major right now, so a lot of players who have conditional status on the LPGA who may not have gotten into the major this week are here playing this. The field this week is stacked with not just top end Epson Tour players, but also LPGA players.

It’s a very competitive and fun filed. Probably one of the deepest we’ll have all year.”

Reigning champion Tsai Ching Tseng sits at +3 (75) after the first day.

The event’s lone amateur Gabriella DeGasperis, 16, finished with a +7 (79). She is also known on social media as Gabby Golf Girl, with over 600,000 followers/subscribers across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

The action continues this weekend with round two on Saturday and round three on Sunday.

“It’s always exciting heading into the weekend. That’s where you really make your money out here on these tours,” Otto said. “You can’t win the tournament in the first round, but you can also lose it on the first round. All these players near the top have to keep pushing, keep trying to extend that lead or try to catch the lead.

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