Aside from Giulia Molinaro, who spent two years at IMG Academy in Bradenton and fired a tournament-record 65 in Friday's first round, the LPGA Symetra Tour's Guardian Retirement Championship's first round wasn't kind to area golfers.
No other player with area ties broke par Friday. Former IMG Academy standout Mia Piccio, who played at the University of Florida, had the best round of the bunch with a 1-over par 73.
Lakewood Ranch High alum Ericka Schneider (77) and Manatee High grad Jennifer Neville (79) also struggled.
"My chipping is what got me, because the greens are softer," said Schneider, who is tied for 111th. "The ball isn't quite rolling out, especially on putts. I left a lot of my putts right around a foot short expecting them to roll out. They aren't quite as fast as they normally are. That really affected the chipping as well. A lot of times out here when you are chipping, the ball will hit and release. And you got a lot of check up (Friday)."
The greens registered a 10 on a Stimpmeter, the device used to measure green speed, compared to the usual 11.5, Schneider said.
"That is a big, big, big difference out here," Schneider said.
Some other players included Bradenton's Ginger Howard (75, tied for 80th), Victoria Tanco (75, T-80th) and Susy Benavides (81, T-135th).
Past champ struggles
It wasn't long ago that Esther Choe was winning the inaugural Symetra Tour event at Sara Bay Country Club and the money title that vaulted her to the LPGA Tour.
That was 2012.
Since then, Choe has struggled. She either missed the cut or withdrew from the 12 tournaments she played in 2013, while failing to retain her LPGA Tour card and didn't play any events last year on either tour.
On Friday, Choe posted a 9-over par 81 and is tied for 135th. Unless she improves Saturday, Choe is heading for a fifth consecutive missed cut to begin the 2015 LPGA Symetra Tour season.
No afternoon delight
Thanks to Molinaro's scorching opening round, the morning wave of tee times in Friday's first round produced slightly lower scores than the afternoon groups. That was also due to favorable conditions in the morning. Lighter wind and softer greens paved the way for a 65 from Molinaro.
Meanwhile, Emily Childs posted a 5-under par 67 to snag second place and did so in the afternoon with the greens drying out from Thursday's rain and breezier holes. In total, the morning wave averaged 74.465 shots per round, while the afternoon groups turned in an average score of 74.492.
Ultimately, Sara Bay's layout was the winner on Friday.
Read the rules
The rule sheets handed out at the start of every tournament are often times glossed over without much focus. But Friday was a reminder of why it's important to read every word written on them. Nadia Luttner, an amateur and senior at Coastal Carolina, was disqualified after using a rangefinder on the seventh hole. That's a no-no in professional tournaments. The rules violation cost Luttner the chance of logging at least two rounds in the pro tourney at Sara Bay. Officials could not determine how often Luttner used the rangefinder prior to being caught using it on the seventh hole.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. follow him on Twitterendattr val="ctrack"/>Herald.