Therese O’Hara (Copenhagen, Denmark) made eagle on hole eight and ended with a 7-under, 64 to lead the Fuccillo Kia Championship at Capital Hills by three shots. Jackie Stoelting (Vero Beach, Fla.), whose parents grew up in the area, is in a three-way tie for second at 4-under, 67 with Erica Popson (Davenport, Fla.) and Catherine O’Donnell (Ponte Vedra, Fla.).

A total of 32 players finished under-par for round one.
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O’Hara, 28, had 225-yards to the pin on hole eight and nailed a 3-wood to five feet and dropped an eagle to pad her lead.

“I hit a great drive and had 225 yards to the pin with the wind helping and uphill,” explained O’Hara about the shot of the day. “I was hoping for a kick up near the pin and I made the putt and it really helped the score.”

O’Hara totaled six birdies and just one bogey to go along with the eagle.

“I was really good at committing to the shot I was standing over today and not being distracted or second guessing myself,” said O’Hara. “I felt super comfortable on the greens and made a lot of putts.”

O’Hara attempted just 27 putts on the day to piece together the second best round of her professional career.

O’Hara, a veteran of three Symetra Tour seasons and one LPGA Tour season, knows there is a lot of golf left.

“Golf is a funny game as it goes up and down, but I love the start,” said O’Hara. “I’m going to try to do the same things I did today on Saturday and Sunday and hopefully good things happen.”

O’Hara earned LPGA Tour status last year by finishing T11 at 2014 Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Unfortunately, she lost her card after making just two cuts in 2015 on the LPGA. O’Hara is now fully focused on a return to the LPGA through the Symetra Tour.

“I started out well this season with a couple top 10 finishes because my ball striking improved a lot during the offseason,” said O’Hara. “Of late, I’ve been in a little slump doing just OK and wanting to do better. It all worked out today.”

O’Hara played in the pro-am on Thursday with the man that is responsible for keeping the Symetra Tour in Albany, Billy Fuccillo.

“We had a great time and he is an awesome guy,” said O’Hara. “It is amazing that he chooses to help out women’s golf in this way. This is a great event.”

O’Hara currently ranks 23rd on the money list and will go hunting for her first career win over the weekend.

STOELTING’S PARENTS GREW UP IN CAPITAL REGION AND SHE STANDS IN 2ND: Jackie Stoelting’s dad went to Niskayuna High School in Schenectady and her mom went to Shenendehowa in Clifton Park so the Stoelting’s are very comfortable at Capital Hills. It showed on Friday as Jackie, with her dad on the bag, carded a 4-under 67.

“I’ve been playing really well lately, it is just a matter of putting three rounds together,” said Stoelting. “To be honest, my first round has been the problem of late so it is nice to get off to a good start today.”

Stoelting made five birdies on the day against just one bogey. She tallied birdies on four of the final six holes on her outward nine.

“I know the course well and I know how the greens break,” said Stoelting. “I made a lot of putts today.”

Stoelting is playing in Albany for an eighth time. Her best finish at Capital Hills is a tie for fourth in 2011.

The Stoelting’s are staying with her grandmother’s roommate from nursing school.

“They are like my second grandparents, I’ve stayed with them every year I’ve been at this tournament,” said Stoelting. “Some family friends of my parents are here and I know more will be coming tomorrow.”

CATHERINE O’DONNELL SHINES AGAIN: Catherine O’Donnell (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) has finished in the top 30 all three years that she has played in Albany and she posted a 4-under 67 to get off to a good start on Friday.

O’Donnell finished T4 at Capital Hills in 2013 and T9 last year.

“It was a really solid round of golf, there wasn’t anything crazy, but of course the eagle was nice,” said O’Donnell. “I tried to hit fairways and greens and I rolled a couple putts in early so I just played solid.”

On her 17th hole of the day, O’Donnell sent her tee shot on the par-5 8th right, but recovered with an eagle from 90-yards out.

“Since I went right off the tee, it wasn’t reachable in two so I took a club to leave myself 90-yards and I gave myself exactly 90-yards and holed out,” explained O’Donnell. “I was a little upset with the tee ball since it is a reachable par-5 so to end with eagle after not hitting a great tee shot was really nice.”

O’Donnell currently ranks 37th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is having one of her better years on Tour so far.

“I’ve had a really good putting year and if I can keep that up I have a really good chance of finishing the year well,” said O’Donnell, who ranks third on Tour in putting average (28.83). “I’m more confident in my putts and inside 10-feet has got so much better that my ball striking is better because of it.”

QUICK NOTES
• University at Albany head women’s golf coach, Colleen Cashman-McSween posted a 4-over 75 and is T100 after day one. She woke up on Friday wth a 102-degree temperature and wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to compete.
• Shaker High School student Madison Braman posted a 15-over 86.
• West Islip, N.Y. native Dani Mullin carded a 2-under 69 and is in a tie for 10th.
• Eight players in the top 25 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list are T10 or better.
• There were 32 players that posted under-par rounds on Friday.

 

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