In recent years, the Women's State Amateur has been about as exciting as watching a half-hour of C-Span or rearranging the socks in your drawer. The usual scenario has been for one golfer to get hot and lap the field like Jamie Stevenson did last year when she won by 11 shots.
Things might be different this year if the first round at Oakridge Country Club is any indication.OK, so Weber State senior-to-be Kami Whitehead did take a four-stroke lead with an opening-round 71 Monday. However, five different golfers, including defending champ Stevenson, are bunched up with 75s.
Besides Stevenson, the others at 75 include three-time champion Terry Norman Hansen, BYU-freshman-to-be Carrie Summerhays, Park City's Claudia Niel-sen and Julie Ann McMullin.
"I'm very pleased with my round," said Whitehead, who grew up in South Jordan. "I had good course management and a good attitude after a poor start."
Indeed, Whitehead began with a bogey and a double bogey on the first two holes to quickly go 3 over par. However, she regrouped and birdied three of the next six holes to get back to even by the turn.
Then after a bogey at No. 10, she made two more birdies with 10-footers at the 11th and 14th holes.
"I didn't want to shoot a big number after those first two holes and told my dad, `I've got to start making some birdies.' "
Whitehead has had poor starts in her previous State Am appearances, so Monday's start was especially fun for her.
"It's nice to be leading after the first day, no matter what happens the next two days," she said. "I'd rather have people chasing me, than being the chaser."
Stevenson, who plays for BYU but is spending the summer working in Pennsylvania, was generally happy with her round, particularly her putting. Two bad stretches doomed her, though - a bogey and a double at 10 and 11 and bogeys on the last two holes.
"I didn't finish strong, that's what I'm upset about," she said.
Summerhays is the youngest daughter of Senior PGA pro Bruce Summerhays. She has spent a lot of time caddying for him this summer and hasn't played a competitive round in months.
"I changed my swing recently, so it's been a struggle for me recently," she said. "But I'm very happy with a 75."
Others still in the running include BYU's Summer Fenstermaker at 77, and former champions Lachell Poffenberger and Sue Nyhus at 78 and 79, respectively.
Play continued Tuesday and the tourney concludes Wednesday afternoon.
Flight leaders include Marie Bambo (81) in First Flight, Cynthia Pruyne (79) in Second Flight, Naomi Griffith (83) in Third Flight and Merri Trexler (93) in Fourth Flight.