SOUTH BEND — Train whistles and horns have been constant distractions for golfers at South Bend Country Club ever since George O’Neil’s wonderful design opened near Chain O’Lakes in 1916.
Friday afternoon in the first round of the $200,000 Four Winds Invitational, the Epson Tour-event field experienced a distracting train of a different source — 24-year-old golf professional Yan Liu of China.
After opening with four straight pars, the 5-foot-8 Liu hopped her own personal birdie train, making six in a row from holes 5 through 10. Then after a three-hole stretch of 1-over golf, Liu finished off her day with three more birdies over the final five holes, the last coming after she holed a 57-foot putt at the 211-yard, par-3 17th. Her 8-under round of 64 was good for a three-shot lead over Linnea Strom of Sweden and Vivian Hou of Chinese Taipei heading into Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole event which pays $30,000 to the winner.
Liu found South Bend Country Club’s 6,456 yards to her liking in an afternoon round played under sunny skies with mild winds. Her length enabled her to put her golf ball in places where all she needed to do was wedge it close. Her putter did the rest.
“My wedges gave me a lot of birdie chances, and my putter today was very good,” said Liu, who has just two Top 10 finishes while playing in the 14 previous Epson Tour events and winning $29,559 (27th on the money list). “The greens were very fast – different from the practice round.”
Last week in the weather-interrupted, four-round French Lick Charity Classic, Liu closed with an 81 that dropped her into a tie for 45th place. This week, she decided to hire a caddie — Jamie Adams, a former North Carolina State Trooper from Pinehurst. With Adams carrying her bag and keeping her calm, Liu stayed in the moment. The only hiccup in her round came at the 517-yard, par-5 12th hole near the railroad crossing on Country Club Road where she made bogey after hitting her approach near a fence.
“He (Adams) helped me relax a little bit,” said Liu after her nine-birdie round. “I think after this tournament, I’ll always have a caddie.”
It’s unlikely that Liu will miss the 36-hole cut today after Friday’s strong start. The 127-player field will be cut to low 60 and ties for Sunday’s final round. In addition to Liu, Strom and Hou, another 28 players broke par 72 while 17 more matched it. The cut probably will be around 1-over 145 or better.
“I really enjoy the course — there are a lot of birdie opportunities out there,” said the 25-year-old Strom, who is third on the money list at $86,307 thanks to four Top-10 finishes including a victory March 25 in the IOA Championship in Beaumont, Calif. She was solo fifth last week at French Lick and she finished runner-up at the Twin Bridges Championship in Albany, N.Y., to winner Lucy Li, the tour’s leading money winner who is sitting out the week along with No. 2 Xiaowen Yin of China.
“After I made a bogey on my second hole, I told myself to continue and enjoy it,” Strom said. She did, closing out her front side with four birdies to turn in 3-under 34. Then after a bogey at the par-3 downhill 10th, Strom birdied Nos. 12, 14 and 15 for an incoming 2-under 35. “It’s always nice to start off a tournament with a good round.”
Strom will get no argument on that from Hou, who led the morning golfers with her bogey-free round that featured five birdies – Nos. 1 and 4 on the front and holes 13, 15 and 17 on the back. The 21-year-old Hou, whose older sister Yu-Sang is also in the field (and shot even-par 72), missed the cut last week at French Lick, her third missed cut in five events. Vivian Hou has earned just $3,944 after a tie for 18th at the Island Resort Championship and a tie for 38th July 29 at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship July 29 at Battle Creek.
“I really liked this golf course the first time I played it in a practice round on Monday,” the 5-foot-3 Hou, who golfed with her sister at the University of Arizona. “I love it – the setup and the green speeds, too. Just everything.”
Three golfers were tied for fourth after 4-under rounds of 68. Denmark’s Malene Krolboll Hansen finished off her morning 68 with her sixth birdie of the day, a two-footer at the 316-yard ninth. Canada’s Selena Costabile made five birdies before a bogey at the par-3 17th. Roberta Liti of Italy reached 5-under in her first 11 holes but played her final seven holes in 1-over.
The best rounds by United States golfers were the 3-under 69s posted by a pair of Texans – Lakareber Abe of The Woodlands and Kenzie Wright of McKinney. Notre Dame graduate Becca Huffer of Denver opened with an afternoon 2-over 74.
First round results
Results after Friday’s first round of the $200,000 Four Winds Invitational at the par-72 (37-35), 6,456-yard South Bend Country Club. The 54-hole tournament is the 15th event on the Epson Tour’s Road to the LPGA:
64 (-8): Yan Liu, Fujian, China, 32-32.
67 (-5): Vivian Hou, Taipei, Chinese Taipei, 35-32; Linnea Strom, Hovas, Sweden, 34-33.
68 (-4): Malene Krolboll Hansen, Taastrup, Denmark, 34-34; Selena Costabile, Thornhill, Ont., 34-34; Roberta Liti, Siena, Italy, 34-34.
69 (-3): Ssu-Chia Cheng, Taipei, Chinese Taipei, 33-36; Regina Plasencia, Guadalajara, Mexico, 36-33; Lakareber Abe, The Woodlands, Texas, 34-35; Pinyada Kuvanun, Khonkaen, Thailand, 35-34; Kenzie Wright, McKinney, Texas, 36-33; Michelle Piyapattra, Eastvale, Calif., 36-33.
70 (-2): Hira Naveed, Perth, Australia, 37-33; Gabriela Ruffels, Melbourne, Australia, 33-37; Pauline Del Rosario, Manila, Philippines, 36-34; Pavarisa Yoktuan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, 36-34; Polly Mack, Berlin, Germany, 37-33.
71 (-1): Gabby Lemieux, Caldwell, Idaho, 36-35; Dottie Ardina, Laguna, Philippines, 35-36; Lindy Duncan, Plantation, Fla., 37-34; Yue Ren, Guangdong, China, 38-33; Kim Kaufman, Clark, S.D., 36-35; Lindsey McCurdy, Liberty Hill, Texas, 36-35; Carley Cox, China Grove, N.C., 37-34; Mind Muangkhumsakul, Banphai, Thailand, 37-34; Milagros Chaves, Asuncion, Paraguay, 36-35; Celine Borge, Tonsberg, Norway, 35-36; Robyn Choi, Gold Coast, Australia, 36-35; Soo Jin Lee, Carlingford, Australia, 35-36.
72 (E): Maria Fernanda Escauriza, Asuncion, Paraguay, 35-37; Elin Arvidsson, Falkenberg, Sweden, 35-37; Katelyn Sisk, Columbia, S.C., 38-34; Clariss Guce, Artesia, Calif., 37-35; Kiira Riihijarvi, Oulu, Finland, 38-34; Weiwei Zhang, Hainan, China, 35-37; Jillian Hollis, Rocky River, Ohio, 38-34; Siyun Liu, Shanghai, China, 37-35; Yu-Sang Hou, Taipei, Chinese Taipei, 38-34; Britney Yada, Hilo, Hawaii, 38-34; Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez, Cuautia, Mexico, 38-34; Michaela Finn, Brastad, Sweden, 38-34; Klara Spilkova, Prague, Czech Republic, 37-35; Jaravee Boonchant, Bangkok, Thailand, 36-36; Amelia Garvey, Christchurch, New Zealand, 36-36; Laetitia Beck, Caesarea, Italy, 36-36; Ana Paula Valdes, Morelia, Mexico, 37-35; Kristin Coleman, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., 37-35; Beatrice Wallin, Gothenburg, Sweden, 38-34.
73 (+1): Tess Hackworthy, Madison, Wis., 36-37; Mariah Stackhouse, Riverdale, Ga., 37-36; Laura Restrepo, Panama City, Panama, 36-37; Kum-Kang Park, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 37-36; Jiwon Jeon, Daegu, Republic of Korea, 40-33; Amy Lee, Brea, Calif. 36-37; Sarah Jane Smith, Sunshine Coast, Australia, 36-37; Emilee Hoffman, Folsom, Calif., 37-36; Haley Moore, Escondido, Calif., 37-36; Alisa Rodriguez, Austin, Texas, 37-36; Moeka Nishihata, Osaka, Japan, 38-35; Shasta Averyhardt, Flint, Mich., 38-35; Daniela Iacobelli, Melbourne, Fla., 39-34; Gina Kim, Durham, N.C., 38-35; Dani Holmqvist, Stockholm, Sweden, 38-35; Nannette Hill, Jupiter, Fla., 37-36; Carrie Porter, Peregian Springs, Australia, 37-36; Anna Redding, Concord, N.C., 38-35; Maria Fernanda Torres, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 40-33.
74 (+2): Kaitlin Milligan, Norman, Okla., 38-36; Katherine Smith, Detroit Lakes, Minn., 37-37; Gabriella Then, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 40-34; Bailey Tardy, Norcross, Ga., 37-37; Auston Kim, St. Augustine, Fla., 39-35; Karolina Vickova, Kladno, Czech Republic, 36-38; Min-G Kim, Cheongju, Republic of Korea, 36-38; Becca Huffer, Denver, Colo., 37-37; Elayna Bowser, Dearborn, Mich., 39-35; Stephanie Na, Adelaide, Australia, 38-36; Julie Aime, Nice, France, 39-35; Karen Chung, Budd Lake, N.J., 39-35; Maddi Caldwell-Young, Canton, Ga., 40-34; Anita Uwadia, Newcastle, England, 38-36; Nishtha Madan, Delhi, India, 38-36.
75 (+3): Vicky Hurst, Melbourne, Fla., 39-36; August Kim, Nashville, Tenn., 38-37; Gigi Stoll, Beaverton, Ore., 38-37; Hyo Joon Jang, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 39-36; Lauren Cox, Orange, Texas, 38-37; Megan Osland, Kelowna, B.C., 41-34; Karen Fredgaard, Frederiksvaerk, Denmark, 39-36; Chanoknan Angurasaranee, Saraburi, Thailand, 38-37; Kendra Dalton, Poughquag, N.Y., 37-38; Samantha Wagner, Windermere, Fla., 39-36; Sofia Garcia, Asuncion, Paraguay, 39-36; Louise Stahle, Lund, Sweden, 42-33; Lori Beth Adams, Burlington, N.C., 39-36; Amanda Tan, Singapore, Singapore, 40-35; Maria Parra, Guadiaro, Spain, 37-38; Greta Isabella Voelker, Witten, Fla., 38-37.
76 (+4): Riley Rennell, Columbia, Tenn., 38-38; Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Toronto, Ont., 37-39; Natalie Srinivasan, Spartenburg, S.C., 39-37; Sarah Elizabeth White, Grand Rapids, Mich., 37-39; Pilar Echeverria, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 35-41; Laura Weam, Charlotte, N.C., 38-38.
77 (+5): Prima Thammaraks, Bangkok, Thailand, 38-39; Grace Kim, Sydney, Australia, 40-37; Alexa Pano, Lake Worth, Fla., 39-38; Maddie Szeryk, London, Ont., 41-36; Emily Mahar, Brisbane, Australia, 41-36; Sophie Hausmann, Nottuin, Germany, 40-37; Louise Ridderstrom, Stocksund, Sweden, 40-37; Leslie Cloots, Antwerp, Belgium, 40-37; Jessica Porvasnik, Hinckley, Ohio, 39-38; Alejandra Llaneza, Mexico City, Mexico, 41-36.
78 (+6): Min Sei Kwak, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 42-36; Miranda Wang, Tianjin, China, 40-38; Mariel Galdiano, Pearl City, Hawaii, 39-39; Abby Herrmann, Pensacola, Fla., 41-37; Fernanda Lira, Mexico City, Mexico, 42-36.
79 (+7): Emma Broze, Nervieux, France, 41-38; Katharine Patrick, West University Place, Texas; 39-40.
80 (+8): Kennedy Swann, Mckenzie Bridge, Ore., 43-37; Marta Sanz Barrio, Madrid, Spain, 40-40; Teresa Toscano, Huelva, Spain, 43-37; Brynn Walker, St. Davids, Pa., 44-36.
81 (+9): Jessica Peng, Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, 40-41.
82 (+10): Julienne Soo, Melbourne, Australia, 44-38.
DQ: Daniela Recla, Vitoria, Brazil.
Saturday's second round tee times
Listed are player’s name, home in parentheses and Friday’s first-round score:
NO. 1 TEE
7:30 a.m.: Pauline Del Rosario (Manila Philippines) 70, Julienne Soo (Melbourne, Australia) 82
7:41: Chanoknan Angurasaranee (Saraburi, Thailand) 75, Emily Mahar (Brisbane, Australia) 77, Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez (Cuautla, Mexico) 72
7:52: Julie Aime (Nice, France) 74, Abby Herrmann (Pensacola, Fla.) 78, Kendra Dalton (Poughquag, N.Y.) 75
8:03: Milagros Chaves (Asuncion, Paraguay) 71, Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Fla.) 73, Karen Chung (Budd Lake, N.J.) 74
8:14: Celine Borge (Tonsberg, Norway) 71, Gina Kim (Durham, N.C.) 73, Klara Spilkova (Prague, Czech Republic) 72
8:25: Jaravee Boonchang (Bangkok, Thailand) 72, Amelia Garvey (Christchurch, New Zealand) 72, Robyn Choi (Gold Coast, Australia) 71
8:36: Dani Holmqvist (Stockholm, Sweden) 73, Louise Ridderstrom (Stocksund, Sweden) 77, Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain) 80
8:47: Soo Jin Lee (Carlingford, Australia) 71, Fernanda Lira (Mexico City, Mexico) 78, Leslie Cloots (Antwerp, Belgium) 77
8:58: Kristin Coleman (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) 72, Teresa Toscano (Huelva, Spain) 80, Beatrice Wallin (Gothenburg, Sweden) 72
9:09: Nishtha Madan (Delhi, India) 74, Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) 77, Anna Redding (Concord, N.C.) 73
9:20: Maria Parra (Guadiaro, Spain) 75, Greta Isabella Voelker (Witten, Fla.) 75, Brynn Walker (St. Davids, Pa.) 80
12:30 p.m.: Prima Thammaraks (Bangkok, Thailand) 77, Malene Krolboll Hansen (Taastrup, Denmark) 68
12:41: Maria Fernanda Escauriza (Asuncion, Paraguay) 72, Riley Rennel (Columbia, Tenn.) 76, Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Toronto, Ont.) 76
12:52: Jessica Peng (Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei) 81, Elin Arvidsson (Falkenberg, Sweden) 72, Gabby Lemieux (Caldwell, Idaho) 71
1:03: Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) 69, Gabriella Then (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) 74, Grace Kim (Sydney, Australia) 77
1:14: Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) 71, Jiwon Jeon (Daegu, Republic of Korea) 73, Kiira Riihijarvi (Oulu, Finland) 72
1:25: Gabriela Ruffels (Melbourne, Australia) 70, Amy Lee (Brea, Calif.) 73, Emma Broze (Nervieux, France) 79
1:36: Sarah Jane Smith (Sunshine Coast, Australia) 73, Bailey Tardy (Norcross, Ga.) 74, Emilee Hoffman (Folsom, Calif.) 73
1:47: Karolina Vickova (Kladno, Czech Republic) 74, Yue Ren (Guangdong, China) 71, Kim Kaufman (Clark, S.D.) 71
1:58: Lindsey McCurdy (Liberty Hill, Texas) 71, Kennedy Swann (Mckenzie Bridge, Ore.) 80, Regina Plasencia (Guadalajara, Mexico) 69
2:09: Haley Moore (Escondido, Calif.) 73, Mariel Galdiano (Pearl City, Hawaii) 78, Alisa Rodriguez (Austin, Texas) 73
2:20: Pinyada Kuvanun (Khonkaen, Thailand) 69, Pilar Echeverria (Guatemala City, Guatemala) 76, Yu-Sang Hou (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) 72
NO. 10 TEE
7:30 a.m.: Kenzie Wright (McKinney, Texas) 69, Britney Yada (Hilo, Hawaii) 72, Maddie Szeryk (London, Ont.) 77
7:41: Shasta Averyhardt (Flint, Mich.) 73, Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) 74, Karen Fredgaard (Frederiksvaerk, Denmark) 75
7:52: Selena Costabile (Thornhill, Ont.) 68, Elayna Bowser (Dearborn, Mich.) 74, Stephanie Na (Adelaide, Australia) 74
8:03: Laura Wearn (Charlotte, N.C.) 76, Pavarisa Yoktuan (Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand) 70, Linnea Strom (Hovas, Sweden) 67
8:14: Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Fla.) 75, Polly Mack (Berlin, Germany) 70, Michaela Finn (Brastad, Sweden) 72
8:25: Sophie Hausmann (Nottuin, Germany) 77, Maddi Caldwell-Young (Canton, Ga.) 74, Yan Liu (Fujian, China) 64
8:36: Sofia Garcia (Asuncion, Paraguay) 75, Anita Uwadia (Newcastle, England) 74, Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Israel) 72
8:47: Louise Stahle (Lund, Sweden) 75, Ana Paula Valdes (Morella, Mexico) 72, Lori Beth Adams (Burlington, N.C.) 75
8:58: Jessica Porvasnik (Hinckley, Ohio) 77, Katharine Patrick (West University Place, Texas) 79, Nannette Hill (Jupiter, Fla.) 73
9:09: Amanda Tan (Singapore) 75, Michelle Piyapattra (Eastvale, Calif.) 69, Cassie Porter (Peregian Springs, Australia) 73
9:20: Valerie Tanguay (St-Hyacinthe, Que.), Roberta Liti (Siena, Italy) 68, Maria Fernanda Torres (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 73
12:30 p.m.: Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea) 78, Tess Hackworthy (Madison, Wis.) 73
12:41: Kaitlin Milligan (Norman, Okla.) 74, Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Fla.) 75
12:52: August Kim (Nashville, Tenn.) 75, Mariah Stackhouse (Riverdale, Ga.) 73, Katherine Smith (Detroit Lakes, Minn.) 74
1:03: Laura Restrepo (Panama City, Panama) 73, Katelyn Sisk (Columbia, S.C.) 72, Clariss Guce (Artesia, Calif.) 72
1:14: Gigi Stoll (Beaverton, Ore.) 75, Hira Naveed (Perth Australia) 70, Kum-Kang Park (Seoul, Republic of Korea) 73
1:25: Weiwei Zhang (Hainan, China) 72, Hyo Joon Jang (Seoul, Republic of Korea) 75, Lindy Duncan (Plantation, Fla.) 71
1:36: Natalie Srinivasan (Spartanburg, S.C.) 76, Jillian Hollis (Rocky River, Ohio) 72, Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Fla.) 77
1:47: Lauren Cox (Orange, Texas) 75, Auston Kim (St. Augustine, Fla.) 74, Sarah Elizabeth White (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 76
1:58: Megan Osland (Kelowna, B.C.) 75, Min-G Kim (Cheongju, Republic of Korea) 74, Vivian Hou (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) 67
2:09: Lakareber Abe (The Woodlands, Texas) 69, Carley Cox (China Grove, N.C.) 71, Miranda Wang (Tianjin, China) 78
2:20: Moeka Nishihata (Osaka, Japan) 73, Siyun Liu (Shanghai, China) 72, Mind Muangkhumsakul (Banphai, Thailand) 71
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Yan Liu leads Epson Tour's Four Winds Invitational in South Bend