SOMIS, Calif., Oct. 6 - A handful of players with California connections found themselves near the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, making the most of their familiarity of The Saticoy Club style. So-Cal native and UCLA alumna Alison Lee leads the group of California-related golfers after shooting a 6-under 66 on Thursday, which landed her at T2 on the leaderboard after day one.
“I grew up playing courses like this. I never played here before, but there is a sense of familiarity out here with the same type of grass and the same similar look to a lot of courses I grew up playing,” said Lee, who went bogey free during round one after hitting all 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens.
Lee is followed closely by Danielle Kang (-5), who grew up in The Golden State and used to hold honorary membership at Saticoy. The Las Vegas resident said she benefitted from the large gallery supporting her during round one, including several members of her family like her older brother Alex Kang.
“My brother coming is a big deal for me, because I love it when he watches. He's kind of my big teacher. He always knows how my game works,” said Kang, who sits T4 after the first-round alongside Atthaya Thitikul and Paula Reto. “Today he's going to tell me what went well and what didn't, and I learn from that… The way he approaches the game was so much more positive in a way that is attainable versus us, we're trying to be a bit more cautious and get through the round.”
California natives Jenny Coleman and Lucy Li are tied for seventh, along with former USC golfers Jennifer Chang, Jennifer Song and Annie Park, among others. Li has already earned LPGA Tour Membership for next season through the Epson Tour, but the others are still working to secure full-time status for 2023. With only four events left in the season following MEDIHEAL, this week is especially important for those with their Tour status on the line who hope to continue taking advantage of their California ties. Coleman and Park have done it before, each earning their best finishes of the season at Cali events. For Park it was a T5 result at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America. For Coleman, it was a T14 finish at the DIO Implant LA Open.
“I've been looking back on that pretty much this whole season. I look into other seasons, too, but that one, just trying to channel that,” Coleman said. “I had good ball striking, dropped some putts (at the LA Open). Same idea today.”