Women’s Amateur tees off at Idle Hour

More than 100 golfers teed it up in the first round of the 80th annual Georgia Women’s Amateur Championship on Tuesday at Idle Hour Club with a spotlight on the featured pairing of last year’s champion Mariah Stackhouse and five-time winner Laura Coble.

While those two both played well, it was former Mississippi standout Dori Carter who leads the way after an opening-round 3-under-par 69. Carter edged Vanderbilt signee Anna Leigh Keith by one stroke for the first-round lead.

Carter, who just ended her collegiate career as a two-time first-team All-SEC performer and honorable mention All-American, had five birdies on the day. Her day was highlighted by three straight birdies at Nos. 15-17, and she finished with a bogey on the 18th hole.

“I played the course for the first time last week, and I really liked it,” Carter said. “It really fits my game. The courses I usually play in college are much longer, and I thought that playing a course that was a little shorter was a big advantage for me. I was a little upset that I bogeyed 18, but it is a very difficult par 3. Overall, I would say I am happy the way I hit the ball.”

Keith, who just graduated from Colquitt County, where she was the GHSA Class AAAAA state champion, had a very unusual round.

She had five birdies and one eagle but also bogeyed five holes.

“I left some strokes on the course (Tuesday),” said Keith, who made it to the sectional round of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open. “I am usually fairly consistent with my putter, but (Tuesday), it seemed like I made everything from 10 to 15 feet away and didn’t make anything from 4 feet. My practice round got rained out (Monday), so maybe that had something to do with it. Hopefully, I will be a little more effective (today).”

Coble and Stackhouse both shot 72, as only four golfers in the field broke par. Coble thinks that lower numbers can be shot.

“I could have put a better score up,” she said. “I didn’t putt that great, but we have two more days of golf to play. The golf course is in great shape and played very well (Tuesday). It is always great to play with Mariah. She is such a great competitor and is obviously a very good golfer. After (today), we will have a much better feeling what it will take to contend.”

Stackhouse had what could have been a disastrous start with a four-putt on the first hole for a double-bogey. But the rising sophomore at North Clayton, kept her slow start in perspective.

“I figured I had 17 more holes to play, so their really wasn’t a reason to get upset,” said Stackhouse, who says she practices five to six hours each day. “It’s great getting to play with Laura because you know if you are close to her, you are close to the top. I am happy with a 72 (Tuesday).

“It’s a stable position to be in, and I put myself in a place where I can contend in this tournament. Idle Hour is an awesome course. I just need to putt a little better in the next two rounds.”