Davies, Alfredsson get off to good starts at U.S. Senior Women's Open

Laura Davies tees off on the seventh hole at the Senior U.S. Women's Open at Brooklawn CC on Thursday.

Laura Davies tees off on the seventh hole at the Senior U.S. Women’s Open at Brooklawn CC on Thursday.

Darren Carrol / USGA

FAIRFIELD — The first two champions of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open are off to decent starts in the third edition of this national championship at Brooklawn Country Club.

Laura Davies shot a 1-under-par 71 on Thursday morning, which currently is in a tie for fifth place. She was the inaugural winner of this event in 2018.

“Two good par putts in the middle of the round kept me going,” Davies said. “And then I played really well on the back nine. I could have shot 3- or 4-under easily. Shot 1-under, so all in all, a good day.”

Defending champion (from 2019) Helen Alfredsson shot a 2-over 74 and is seven strokes behind co-leaders Annika Sorenstam and Dana Ebster.

“It’s just when you come out and you haven’t competed for almost a year and a half, it’s, I mean, your thoughts are all over the place,” Alfredsson said. “You try to stay focused, but then it’s like, ‘Am I forgetting something, should I know this, that?’”

Davies played with Sorenstam and Liselotte Neumann. The trio drew the biggest galleries due in large part to Sorenstam, who is playing in her first U.S. Senior Women’s Open and playing in her first USGA event since 2008.

“She’s not as powerful as she used to be because she doesn’t hit it as far as she used to. Her irons are still very good and her short game is the same as always. She never got credit for having such a good short game,” Davies said about Sorenstam. “Very nice crowd. I like it when they can walk along with us (without gallery ropes). It’s more fun. There are all these ropes. I know big crowds you have to control, when they’re that size it’s quite nice.”

Hall of Famer

Suzy Whaley, the former president of the PGA of America, was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame on Thursday evening at The Patterson Club in Fairfield.

Whaley, 54, was the first woman to serve both as PGA of America president (2018-20) and was the first woman elected to serve as an officer. She was also the former head pro at Blue Fox Run GC in Avon and played on the LPGA Tour in 1990 and 1993.

Whaley was the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event in nearly six decades when she qualified for the 2003 Greater Hartford Open. The former Farmington resident is now the teaching pro at The Country Club of Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Local caddies

There were a handful of people with state ties who were out caddying on Day One of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

Anthony Pioppi, an author and the executive director of the Seth Raynor Society, caddied for Amy Alcott. Pioppi is a longtime caddie at Hartford GC.

Pioppi looped for Tara Flemming, a former LPGA Tour player, at a USGA Four Ball Qualifier in 2019. Fleming emailed Pioppi in April wondering if he was interested in caddying for Alcott at Brooklawn CC for this championship.

“Four-tenths of a second later, I said yes,” Pioppi said.

A World Golf Hall of Famer, Alcott opened with a 78.

Bill Wallis, the head pro at New Haven CC, caddied for amateur Laura Coble. They met when Wallis was an assistant pro at Augusta CC in Augusta, Georgia. Wallis moved on to become an assistant at Shinnecock Hills GC before coming to New Haven CC 14 years ago.

Coble was 3-over through 12 holes when play was suspended for the day shortly before 4 p.m.

Andrew Sciarretta, a member and caddie at Brooklawn CC, looped for Kelley Brooke, a family friend. Sciarretta is coming off a tie for 34th place at the Connecticut Open held earlier this week at CC of Darien. Brooke shot an 82 Thursday.

joseph.morelli

@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli