Ryann O'Toole got off to a bad start on the back 9 in her 1st round yesterday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, but she had a chance to turn it all around as she made the turn with a birdie on 18 that got her back to +1 and back-to-back birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes to get into red figures for the 1st time all day. I didn't see the birdie on 18, but I did get to see her play the 2nd and 3rd perfectly, splitting the fairway on the former and sticking her approach, then sticking another one on the latter. Even though she missed a 15-foot uphill birdie attempt on the long par-4 4th, which was playing short because the wind was behind her, she still had plenty of mo' heading into the short par-5 5th and 6th holes, which were playing even shorter than their yardages because the fairways were running out and the wind was still helping her.
But O'Toole squandered it all when she failed to get up and down for birdie from the back fringe on the 503-yard 5th after hitting a great drive and a fantastic approach from about 200 yards out. When it takes you 3 shots to get the ball in the hole from less than 25 feet away from it, it's hard to recover. And it was hard for Ryann: when she put her drive on the 522-yard 6th in the left rough, she had to play the hole conservatively and couldn't sink a 15-footer for birdie. Then things went from bad to worse when she charged her 12-foot birdie putt on the longest par 4 on the course, the 417-yard 7th, and failed to get her comebacker par save attempt to drop. Finally, her problems migrated from her putter to her irons, when she left herself with very long birdie putts on the short par-4 8th and medium-length par-3 9th.
In the end, O'Toole shot an even-par 71, which she probably would have taken after she bogeyed 3 of her 1st 7 holes, but which can't feel nearly so good after standing on the 5th tee having played her previous 5 holes in -3. She's going to get a lot of time to stew about that finish, as she isn't scheduled to tee off until 4:39 pm today. At least she gets a chance to get revenge right away, as she starts on the 1st!