Several Players Go Low in Firekeepers Championship Opening Round
A local talent, a three-time winner on the Symetra Tour and a relative newcomer to the tour sit in a three-way tie atop the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battle Creek Country Club. The score was a six-under 66 to hold a one-shot lead after the first of three rounds in the seventh-annual event.
The local talent is one of two sponsor exemptions for the tournament in Hastings native Gabrielle Shipley, who is still attempting to get onto the Symetra full-time after completing her four years of eligibility at Grand Valley State. Out of three leaders, her round was the cleanest with six birdies and going bogey-free.
Posting an early 66 was Ruixin Liu of China, who has been battling a foot injury and took the time off during the pandemic to rest. Liu returned to the Symetra after spending last season on the LPGA tour. She led the Symetra Tour in earnings in 2018 to earn her LPGA card.
Finally Ji Eun Baik, a South Korea national living in Georgia, shot her career-best round on the Symetra since joining in 2019 after playing at Mississippi State.
Three other players are tied a shot back at five-under, part of 57 players that carded scores at par or better through the first round. The lone champion so far on the Symetra this year, Janie Jackson, put together a three-under 69 to sit three strokes behind.
The second round takes place on Saturday with threesome groups teeing off on the 1st and 10<supth tees. The cut will be made for Sunday's final round, leaving the top 60 players including ties for their share of the $175,000 purse. As a reminder, there are no spectators allowed for this year's event, due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.