KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Gabriella Then takes a three-shot lead into the second round of the Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross NC, played at Kinston Country Club.
Then, who has been on the Epson Tour since 2017, had birdies on the first and third holes then came back with birdies on No. 6 and No. 7 to go 3-under-par through the first nine holes. She recorded four more birdies and an eagle on No. 12 to quickly build up her lead.
Below is more from the Epson Tour on Thursday’s first round.
Round one has concluded at the Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Gabriella Then sits alone at the top of the leaderboard. The University of Southern California alumna shot a 9-under-par 62 at Kinston Country Club in Kinston. She heads into the second round with a three-shot lead.
Then opened her round shooting 2-under-par in her first three holes. She recorded one bogey on the day, which she bounced back from with a 14-hole bogey-free stretch.
“I slipped up a bit on one of the holes on the front nine, but I thought it’s alright, there’s plenty more holes to catch up,” said Then. “I blanked for a second and really zoned in on the shot in front of me. I wasn’t really paying attention to the overall scorecard, but now when I’m seeing it back, it was crazy.”
Her back nine consisted of four birdies and one eagle, on No. 12. Then’s lie leading up to her hole out for eagle wasn’t in the most ideal condition, so she was surprised when she found out it went in.
“I hit my tee shot a little to the right and was behind a tree,” said Then. “I had a clear shot to the green, and I hit it, but I couldn’t really see so I was ducking. It landed and you could hear the ball hit the pin super hard. Daniela [Iacobelli], in my group, she goes ‘it’s in’.”
In total, Then recorded eight birdies and one eagle on the day. The California native visually likes the course at Kinston Country Club, which positively impacted her play.
“It allows me to be free and just go for it,” said Then.
Her mindset for tomorrow is to hit the same good drives as today and keep up the aggressive approach shots. Then is chasing her second victory of the 2022 season, just a little over a month after her win at the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes.
Behind Then are five players tied for second. Binny Lee, Lori Beth Adams, Laura Restrepo, Fernanda Lira, and Auston Kim, shot 6-under-par 65. The top-6 have similar mindsets going into tomorrow; take it one step at a time.
“There’s a lot of golf to be played,” said Lira. “It’s a nice course, and I think it suits my game and suits my eyes, so I’m just going to take it round by round and see where that leads us.”
While they all keep their focus on the next round, some relish in the moment as they finally start to see their hard work pay off.
“I’m just excited [to be near the top of the leaderboard],” said Restrepo. “I’ve been working really hard and haven’t been seeing the results, so I’m just excited that it finally went my way.”
Rounding out the top-10, tied for 7th after shooting 5-under-par 66, are Lucy Li, Alexa Pano, Milagros Chaves, Stephanie Na, Marta Sanz Barrio, and Clariss Guce. A total of 81 players ended Thursday at even-par or better.