High school sophomore, German player draw top attention at LPGA tournament

Posted Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A week ago, Taylor Coleman was competing in a Class 5A regional high school tournament as a sophomore at San Antonio Johnson.

This morning, she awoke still an amateur but on a distant planet as part of the leader board at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.

Coleman, who qualified for the tournament Monday by finishing second in the High School Shootout, beat back the expected nerves and bogeys on Nos. 1 and 7 to fire a first-round, 3-under-par 68 in near-perfect weather Thursday morning at Las Colinas Country Club.

The 16-year-old had five birdies on her scorecard, including four on the back nine.

She is among a group tied for eighth, four strokes behind leader Caroline Masson of Germany entering Friday’s second round.

That beats Algebra II any day of the week.

“I was trying to smile and have fun and not look at the scoreboard and stay focused,” Coleman said. “After a rough first hole, I came back and was able to make a few birdies on the back nine.”

Carlota Ciganda, a Spaniard who last year became the first player since Laura Davies in 1985 to be both the Ladies European Tour’s Rookie of the Year and top earner in the same season, is second at 5 under.

Inbee Park, the top women’s player in the world, was part of a group three shots back in third.

Masson, in line to earn a spot representing Europe in the Solheim Cup, toured the club’s 6,410-yard layout with a bogey-free 7-under 64.

Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford shot 2 under.

The professionals are playing for a $195,000 winner’s check.

Though technically a rookie, Masson — a few weeks shy of her 24th birthday — is hardly an untrained professional, having earned close to $500,000 in three seasons on the Ladies European Tour.

She played in Sunday’s final pairing in the 2011 Women’s British Open but fell back with a 78.

Those experiences have not translated into good results in the U.S., at least not quickly, for Masson.

She has missed four cuts in five events in 2013, though she finished 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first of five majors each season. Park claimed the championship.

Masson hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and finished out her round in 28 putts.

“I’m not really happy with my season,” Masson said. “I always felt like I wasn’t too far away. I felt like there was a good round in me. I just needed to be patient.

“You have to stay in the present. It’s great to have such a good round, but I have to focus… on every shot, pay attention to the greens, especially downhill, because they are really quick [here].”

A par on the 327-yard, par-4 uphill No. 2 was all Coleman said she needed to settle her nerves.

She mixed in a birdie and a bogey on Nos. 5 and 7 before closing with confidence-boosting birdies on 10, 13, 14 and 17.

“The first tee shot was really scary,” Coleman said of her anxiety as she approached the 426-yard, par-4. “My foot slipped because I was shaking so bad. My next shot was worse; I was shaking even more.”

Coleman’s tee shot on the par-3 13th hit within four feet and she drained a long putt off the green for another birdie on 14.

“On the back I was more comfortable with my swing and getting more confidence.”

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