OAK RIDGE – Farragut’s Lexanne Halama didn’t let a rocky start ruin her Monday in the opening round of the 5Star Preps Masters golf tournament presented by Brad Rose Golf.
She made double bogey on her first hole and bogey on her second hole at Oak Ridge Country Club.
Halama, a junior this year, quickly regrouped with a birdie on her third hole and finished with a 5-under-par 67.
She wasn’t shaken being 3 over after her first two holes, Nos. 10 and 11.
“I was just trying to take one shot at a time today and just stay in the moment because I knew there were a lot of other good holes out there,” Halama said.
Halama has an eight-stroke lead over Maryville’s Ainsley Simms (3-over 75) going into Tuesday’s second and final round at Oak Ridge Country Club.
Catholic’s Kennedy Anne Noe (76) is third and Farragut’s Aynsleigh Martin (78) fourth.
Lenoir City’s Jeremy Ellis and Christian Academy of Knoxville’s John Meadows share the first-round lead on the boys’ leaderboard after shooting 3-under 69s.
Pigeon Forge’s Nate Vaughn (70) is third, followed by William Blount’s Nicklaus Etherton (71) and CAK’s Aaron Frazier (72).
It’s not such a logjam atop the girls’ leaderboard, thanks to Halama’s ability to collect herself after two holes.
However, Halama had her doubts for a moment after her tee shot on the par-4 10th hole sailed into the water. After taking a drop, she hit into a bunker and carded a double-bogey 6.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh my gosh? Are we going to start off the day like this? OK,’ ” Halama said. “But I also knew that just staying calm and just keeping in the moment, and you’ll be fine.”
On the par-4 11th hole, Halama hit her second shot over the green and on the side of the bunker. She took a safe way out of the trap for a bogey.
“It was just one of those that you could be either really risky and aggressive (on the bunker shot) and have it pay off, or you just take your medicine,” Halama said. “I decided it’s not worth it right now.”
Her rally started on the next hole, No. 12, when she made a birdie putt from a foot.
It was just what she needed.
“I felt like, ‘I can get this back under control now,’ and I played pretty steady for the rest of the back and then just rolled in some nice putts on the front and hit a few good shots,” Halama said.
She made two more birdies on her first nine holes and made the turn with an even-par 36.
She shot 5-under 31 on the back with five birdies – including both par-5 holes, Nos. 7 and 9. Her birdie putt on 9 was from about 2 feet.
“I was hitting everything to about 12, 15 feet, and they were just kind of rolling in,” she said of her last nine holes. “I had a couple I stuck in there close.”
Halama is certainly on the radar of high-level college coaches. She has two official visits set for this fall, to Tennessee and Illinois, and more could come.
She takes a simple approach going into Tuesday’s second round of the 5Star Preps Masters.
“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it,” Halama said. “It’s going to be a new day, all new shots, so again, I’m just going to take one shot at a time and stay in the moment.”
Meadows, a junior at CAK this year, was 1-under 35 on the front nine with eight pars and a birdie on the par-5 No. 7. He was 3-under on the back with three birdies and a bogey on the par-4 No. 13.
“It was pretty smooth sailing,” Meadows said. “I missed a few birdie putts along the way, but it was just tap-in pars most of the time.”
Ellis, a junior at Lenoir City this year, was 4-under going into the par-4 16th hole, but three-putted for a bogey.
His 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th lipped out, and he tapped in for par.
It didn’t put a damper on his round.
“It was really good,” Ellis said. “I felt really solid warming up, and once I got on the course, I felt really comfortable.”
He’s hoping for more of the same Tuesday when rain is in the forecast.
“Tomorrow, same game plan,” Ellis said. “I’m just going to come out and try to make pars, and if the birdies come, they come. Just try to shoot about the same.”