Grier opens play with 81

June 28, 2007|By DAN SPEARS


The questions came from the gallery: "Who is that in the black outfit?" "Why does she have a stand bag?" "What is her score?"

The answer came from Ashley Grier's driver on the 18th hole Thursday afternoon in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open.

As her final tee ball of the day rocketed off the club with a loud, authoritative smack and headed for the edge of the left-hand rough, one fan knew Grier meant business.


"Wow, she can hit it," he said before walking away.

Grier's opening-round 81 won't turn any heads and makes her a longshot for playing the weekend at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club. But the Futures Tour member knows she's ready for a second experience with the best LPGA professionals.

"After being here this week, yeah, this is definitely what you want to do. At the restaurant we went to last night, they gave me a free meal, just because I was playing," the Smithsburg High School graduate said. "Everyone wants you to sign stuff; they treat you like you're gold."

Her start Thursday was as priceless. An opening birdie and a tight approach on No. 2 left her at 1 under and confident. Bogeys followed on Nos. 4, 5, 8, 9 and 12 left her at 4 over, but not discouraged.

"She didn't hit hardly any bad drives," said her father, Dave, who caddied. "When she was 4 over through 14, she was thinking birdie. And then it went bad. But it was so cool when she was grooving."

The par-5 15th hole requires two good shots to get a wedge in your hand for the approach to a tight pin on the right side of the green. Grier accomplished that goal, then put pressure on herself for the first time all day.

"My mom said she had a dream last night that I holed out for eagle on No. 15, so I was so nervous just trying to make a shot and it got away from me," Grier said. "And it went downhill from there."

She couldn't get up and down from the bunker and made bogey. She flubbed a chip on No. 16 and made another bogey. Her approach on the par-4 17th clipped a tree and careened out of bounds on the way to quadruple-bogey 8.

A near-make of a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 18 could only produce a wry smile, allowing the professional in her to come out.

"81 to 80, doesn't really matter," she said. "If it would have been for 79, though, that would have made a difference."

A lengthy rain delay likely will push back her tee time today and force her into a two-day second round. No matter when it is, she knows only one thing will keep her around for all of the weekend "make some birdies."

As her interview wrapped up and Grier was putting things into her bag, someone called out from behind the ropes: "Ashley! Autographs!"

Her smile quickly returned.

It was time to go back to work.

The Herald-Mail Articles