Caroline Westrup doesn’t mind being the leader in the opening rounds of a golf tournament, but she’d rather be the chaser instead of the chasee.
That’s where Westrup finds herself at the Symetra Classic – in striking distance of the leaders after Thursday’s first round at Raintree Country Club.
She shot a 4-under-par 68 – her second-best opening round of the season on the Symetra Tour – which puts Westrup one shot behind opening-round leader Isabelle Boineau of France.
“Every tournament I won in college, I was always behind heading into the final round,” said Westrup, 27, a fifth-year pro from Sweden who won five college tournaments at Florida State.
“I’ve always liked to be a little behind and come from the back. I like to know where I am, so I look at the leader boards. That way I know what I need to do.”
Westrup, whose best Symetra Tour finish was a tie for third at Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2011, overcame a bogey on No. 18 with five birdies. That left her in a three-way tie for second with Laura Kueny and Martina Gavier of Argentina.
Boineau – who finished second to Christine Song at Sarasota, Fla., in the last LPGA developmental tour event on April 28 – had five birdies in posting a bogey-free round.
“I was making the putts,” said Boineau, who had 26 putts. “I didn’t strike the ball very well, but I tried to hit my safe zones and my putting was good, too. I just had a good feeling about my putter.”
Five others – Brianna Do, Tiffany Joh, Blair O’Neal, Katie Kempter and Canadian Alena Sharp – were tied for fifth at 69.
A group of 10 golfers that included Song, Symetra Tour money leader Melissa Eaton of South Africa, Wake Forest grad Jean Chua of Malaysia and N.C. State grad Briana Vega were tied for 10th at 70.
Teenage amateur Emily Stinson didn’t get off to the best start in her first professional tournament, shooting a 9-over-par 81.
Stinson, a senior at Ardrey Kell and an Appalachian State signee, had seven bogeys, including a triple bogey on No. 11 and a double bogey on No. 12 (both par 4s).
“I just couldn’t stay out of the bunkers,” said Stinson, 18. “I’m not going to worry about it tomorrow; it’s a new day.”
Stinson wasn’t the only player with North Carolina connections to have a rough time.
Concord native Cydney Clanton shot a 5-over 77, wrapping six bogeys around a birdie on No. 8 for her worst round this season.
Natalie Sheary, who played at Wake Forest, had a 3-over 75; Michele Low of Malaysia, a Belmont Abbey graduate, also had a 77; Elon grad Danielle Mills of Canada shot 6-over 78, and North Carolina grad Catherine O’Donnell shot an 8-over 80.
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