CSU senior Prendergast fires 68 to take 2-shot lead in CoBank Colorado Women’s Open
by Gary Baines
This summer marks the 24th year the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open has been held. In that time, there’s been a grand total of one amateur who has won the overall title — Paige Mackenzie, current co-host of Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, in 2006.
The reason that’s pertinent now is that an amateur — Colorado State University senior Katrina Prendergast to be precise — leads by two after Wednesday’s opening round of the $150,000 CWO at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in northeast Denver.
There’s obviously still a long way to go — two more rounds — but the opportunity is there to join some elite company.
“I don’t really think about that honestly,” the 20-year-old said on Wednesday evening. “I just take it day by day. If I get there, I get there, but one day at a time.”
Prendergast, who hails from Sparks, Nev., was the only player to shoot in the 60s on Wednesday as she posted a 4-under-par 68. That puts her two ahead of the five players who sit in second place.
This year has already been a special one for Prendergast (pictured above), who teamed up with fellow Ram golfer Ellen Secor to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title in May. Not coincidentally, Prendergast and Secor were in the same threesome in Wednesday’s first round.
“I love playing with Ellen,” Prendergast said. “She’s got a great personality, always outgoing and out there. She’s so fun to play with. I’m glad I got to play with her today.”
Prendergast and Secor have qualified in Colorado for the last two U.S. Women’s Four-Balls together, going on to make it to the round of 16 in 2017 before winning this year.
On Wednesday, Secor shot a 75, playing her final 10 holes in 2 under par. Prendergast, who tied for second earlier this month in the Utah Women’s Open after a final-round 63, two-putted for birdie on the 18th hole at GVR to finish with five birdies and one bogey.
“The putter is a little hot right now, which is good,” she said. “We want to keep it that way. I’m coming here feeling good.
“This is a good start. I got up and down basically everywhere (she missed a green), which helped me out. I gave myself chances when I needed to. I had one bogey on 9 — a mess-up on the tee. Other than that it was a good day.”
Another player with strong ties to a Colorado-based college program is among those tied for second place after round 1. That would be former University of Denver golfer Jessica Dreesbeimdieke (left), who was the low amateur in this tournament two years ago. Joining her at 70 on Wednesday were Kendra Dalton of Wake Forest, N.C., Swede Jessica Vasilic, Mary Fran Hillow of Charleston, S.C., and Natalie Vivaldi, who played three seasons at the University of Colorado before transferring to San Diego State.
In all, just eight players shot sub-par rounds on Wednesday, and no one went very deep.
“They set out a good challenge with the greens,” Dreesbeimdieke said. “That’s probably why the scores are a little higher. They’re pretty quick, I’m not going to lie. They’re quicker than they were yesterday. And some of the pins out there are not that easy. They’re on some slopes, (and) it can get away from you if you’re not careful.”
Dreesbeimdieke, a native of Namibia — just northwest of South Africa — who now lives in Juno Beach, Fla., turned pro just about a month ago and is making the CWO her third event as a professional. She competed in Stage I of LPGA Tour Q-school last week and failed to advance.
“I’m really excited” about this new phase in her life, she said. “In my mind I have a lot to learn, so easing into my pro career is what I’m planning to do. Obviously it’s going to be a lot harder — and it has been. It’s been a learning experience. It’s very different suddenly playing for a paycheck. But I’m patient with myself. I’m only human. I have a lot of nerves. I’m trying to play really well, I’m trying to be perfect. I’m kind of learning that’s not how golf is.”
Dreesbeimdieke birdied her first two holes on Wednesday and was 3 under through 5, but needed a 4-foot birdie on 18 to shoot 70.
Only one player with strong Colorado connections has won the Colorado Women’s Open since 2005 — Becca Huffer in 2013. But there are several “locals” in contention after round 1. Besides Prendergast, Dreesbeimdieke and Vivaldi, there’s former CU golfers Brittany Fan (72) and Esther Lee (73).
Notable: Prendergast (68) leads the low-amateur competition by four after round 1. In second place is Aneta Abrahamova of Slovakia. … In the pro-am team competition, title sponsor CoBank’s squad shares the lead with Massage Envy at 9-under-par 63. … The championship field will be cut to the low 40 players and ties after Thursday’s second round. … The winner of the tournament — or the low pro, should an amateur prevail — will earn $50,000.
For scores from the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open, CLICK HERE.