Mo Martin hits the ball on the #18 fairway during the first round of Marathon Classic. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Just four short days after Mo Martin became a major champion on the LPGA tour, she still had a wide smile on her face after continuing her hot streak with another solid round on Thursday.
Martin won the the Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale on Sunday, and many thought she might take the week off to celebrate. Instead, Martin was at Highland Meadows for the first round of the Marathon Classic, and she was glad she came.
Martin carded a four-under par 67 and is tied for third place after the opening round.
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PHOTO GALLERY: Photos from Round 1
“I'm pretty tired. It kind of still feels like a dream,” Martin said. “I was joking around with the trainers and asking if they could give me a massage because my face still hurts from smiling. It is still surreal. But I was able to focus on my round today, and I'm proud of that. I had a good time today.”
Martin had no bogeys. She also had four birdies with two on the front nine and two more on the back nine.
“It was a very steady round,” Martin said. “I had four birdies, and the rest were pars. It was a beautiful day. It was a great round of golf today.”
Martin played in a threesome with Michelle Wie and 2012 Marathon Classic champion So Yeon Ryu. The 5-foot-2 Martin, nicknamed Mighty Mo, nearly had an eagle to finish her round on the 18th hole, but settled for a birdie.
Martin made the shot of her life on the 18th hole at the British Open. Her near perfect tee shot set up a clinching eagle as the 31-year-old American won her first major with a one-shot victory. It was her first win in 63 starts.
“A lot of people said they were surprised I didn't take the week off,” Martin said. “So that put it in my head that maybe I should. I'm tired enough. But I love this tournament, and I love this community. So it was a plan to play, and I was just following through with that.”
KERR CONNECTS: On hole No. 6, Cristie Kerr's tee shot took two hops on the green and bounced in for a hole-in-one.
Kerr used a 9-iron to record the ace on the 170-yard hole.
“It was my best hole of the day,” Kerr said, laughing. “I just told it to get up a little bit and then I said, 'In!' and it went in. It's the first hole-in-one I've had in a long time.
Kerr had a bogie on the 18th and finished with a one-under par 70 and is tied for 33rd.
“I did not hit it very well today,” said Kerr, who has 16 career victories. “I made a lot of unforced errors and I was scrambling a lot. To shoot under par was kind of a victory.”
KING OF THE ROAD: As Kim Williams left the course after completing her round, she pointed towards a vintage red-and-blue No. 43 car, parked next to the first green and underneath a Marathon pricing marquee.
“Tell Richard Petty not to leave!” Williams said to her caddie.
“The King” held court Thursday afternoon at Highland Meadows Golf Club, shaded next to the first green. The NASCAR Hall of Famer Petty said this weekend’s Marathon Classic is his first LPGA event, and he met with the fans as part of a promotion with Marathon Petroleum.
“It’s always good to work with the fans,” Petty said. “We’ve been working with Marathon for years, and’s it’s a deal where Marathon and Richard Petty are giving back to the fans. The fans buy our products, they come and watch our race, and this is a ‘thank you’ to them for being a fan.”
Petty, 77, won a record 200 races in his 35-year NASCAR career, and won seven NASCAR titles before he retired in 1992.
“The technology [in racing] has changed so much," Petty said. "Everything is much more technical now and everything is more expensive because it's more technical. There are more engineers, and I think the process of racing has become more technical, rather than just the process of working on race cars."
LEWIS LURKING: Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in the world, said she did not hit the ball very well during the first round, but believes she's still in contention.
Lewis, a Toledo native, shot a one-under par 70 and birdied two of the final three holes.
“I finished well, which is always good,” Lewis said.” I definitely did not have my best out there. I didn't hit the ball very good. But I found a way to get the ball in the hole at the end and got some birdies there to get under par, which is always a good score on this golf course.”
Lewis said she was not concerned when she saw Laura Diaz take a large lead because the course “catches up to you pretty quick.”
“You won't see someone do that two days in a row,” she said. “You have to stay patient out there, and hopefully you get one of those days where you go crazy, too. Other than Laura, no one is going crazy. I'm still in this thing.”
PATIENT CHAMP: Defending champion Beatriz Recari played her first nine holes, the back side at the Meadows, in even par, then double-bogeyed No. 1. She fought back with three birdies down the stretch to get in red numbers with a 1-under 70 in the first round.
“I had to be patient and finally, after a lot of chances, I started making some putts,” the Spaniard said. “Any time you shoot under par, it’s a good start. Now, I have to keep the momentum going.”
PANCAKE REBOUNDS: Second-year pro Brooke Pancake recovered from a tough round last week at the Women's British Open with a two-under par first round on Thursday.
“It was hard not playing well there. But I knew I was headed in the right direction,” said Pancake, who was 15 over par at the major tournament last week.
Pancake had an 86 in the first round, but come back with a 76 in England. She had two birdies and one bogie in Sylvania on Thursday.
Pancake, who was competing at Highland Meadows for the third time, said she loves the course. She said hitting the fairways on the tree-lined course is key.
“It's one of those courses where if you're hitting it really well, you get rewarded,” Pancake said. “You have to think your way around certain shots and certain layups. To hit the fairway, you get rewarded.”
But Pancake said she struggled with her ball striking and did not hit many greens in regulation.
“I felt solid with my short game and made some birdies when I needed to,” Steen said.
POWERS PUTTS: Bowling Green native Caroline Powers, who was competing in the local event for the second straight year, struggled with her putting during the first round. Powers, who attended Bowling Green High School, carded a four-over 75 on Thursday.
“I birdied the second hole, so I was thinking everything was going to be okay,” Powers said. “But I had a lot of six and seven footers [putts] for par, and I only made a little over half of them. So those are the ones you remember. I still feel good about my putting.”
Powers, who received a sponsors invitation to participate, said on the longer putts she needs to have better speed and must get closer on her approach shots. Powers, who missed the cut at the event last summer, only hit 10 greens on Thursday.
Powers, who was the Big Ten golfer of the year while playing at Michigan State in 2013, is a regular on the Symetra Tour. She's breaking in a new putter this week, and was seen practicing her stroke several hours after her round ended.
“So, hopefully we'll hit a few more [today] and make some of those short putts for birdie,” Powers said.
Powers said she has many more supporters than she usually has at the Sylvania event.
“[Today] I will have a good crowd, and I'm looking forward to that,” she said.
CREAMER FINDS WAY: Local favorite Paula Creamer, who won at Highland Meadows in 2008, had two birdies during her first round. Creamer, nicknamed the Pink Panther because of her connection with Owens Corning, finished one over par with a 72.
“I didn't quite hit it the way I wanted to. I missed some good birdie chances on seven and eight,” Creamer said.
Creamer, who had bogies on holes five, 11, and 14, said the course is not playing like it has in the past.
“It's not as short. It's playing a lot longer. The ball isn't going as far,” she said. “The rough is much thicker and more penalizing that it has been the last several years, and the scores show it.”
Creamer, who finished second last year, said she's close to making a big move.
“It's not far away, it's just a couple of minor things here or there. I only made [two birdies] today, and that is not my round of golf. I haven't shot myself in my foot,” she said.
Blade sports writers Mark Monroe, Rachel Lenzi, and sports columnist Dave Hackenberg contributed to this notebook.