Local golfers shoot identical scores in round 1 of Sun Life Alberta Amateur Championships

Kheler Koss in three-way tie for led after opening day

Clare McMahon was just happy to be back on the golf course Wednesday, regardless of the result.

McMahon had been away from the game for three months finishing her first season at Barton College in North Carolina.

McMahon suffered some nerve damage in her arm during the season this year but is finally able to play this week in the Sun Life Financial Ladies Amateur Championship at the Red Deer Golf and Country Club.

Round one at home didn’t exactly go as planned as McMahon fired an 86 to open the tournament, well back of the leaders.

“There’s nerve damage in my left arm so it’s hit or miss,” she said. “There was a bunker shot on 11 and it started hurting after that. Had to really push through on the back but got a nice birdie on 18. (It) wasn’t a pain free round, but definitely not near as bad as when I first came home. I’m happy to just be playing.”

The former Notre Dame Cougars golfer who was once a Central Alberta Schools Athletic Association zone champion explained that along with her first time playing in the Alberta amateur championship, she was excited to see all the talented golfers at the event.

“It’s my first time playing in the ladies (amateur championship). It’s a beautiful facility. Nice to be out here and be able to play,” McMahon added. “There’s some really great girls here. I recognize some of the names. I know Kheler (Koss) she just won juniors. I’m expecting some really low scores.”

She was also paired up with another Red Deer golfer in the opening round. Tracy Biluk played alongside the teen. Biluk fired an 86 on Wednesday.

After the dust settled on a gloomy first round, three golfers managed to take a slight lead on the rest of the pack.

Kenna Hughes, Sabrine Garrison and Kehler Koss all shot two-over 74s on day one to pull ahead.

Koss is coming off an Alberta junior amateur title win last week at Coal Creek Golf Resort in Ryley. She said the momentum might help her a little bit.

“I think it helps confidence-wise. I was hitting it really well at the juniors. Golf is hard. You have to go day-by-day,” she said. “Just staying patient when things aren’t going well. Hoping that the good shots will come.”

The 18-year-old didn’t have her best round Tuesday but hopes with a little practice she can make a few tweaks that will set her up well for the second round.

“I wasn’t hitting it great (Wednesday) but I got some lucky breaks and I scrambled pretty well,” she said. “I’m going to warm up for a little bit longer tomorrow morning.”

It’s also her first time playing Red Deer Golf and Country Club other than her practice round, which provided a few challenges.

“It’s interesting for sure. It definitely has its defences, but it’s a very fun course to play,” Koss said. “Knowing where to place shots. A lot of the bunkers are set where I usually land the ball. So just knowing when to blast it by or lay back a bit.”

The first group hits the course at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.

byron.hackett@reddeeradvocate.com

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