NW Arkansas Championship report:

Lopez falls after low first round

By: ANDREW EPPERSON Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018
Gaby Lopez lines up her putt during the second round of the NW Arkansas LPGA Championship, Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Gaby Lopez lines up her putt during the second round of the NW Arkansas LPGA Championship, Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.

ROGERS -- Gaby Lopez birdied hole No. 8 on Saturday, just like she did in Friday's first round of the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship.

She holed a long putt with a slight break, and pumped both fists emphatically. There was a hint of relief in that celebration, as it marked her first birdie after racking up four bogeys on the front nine in an underwhelming overall round that knocked her off the top of the leaderboard after a career-best round on Friday.

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"I made a couple of mistakes out there, but we all do," Lopez said. "It's alright because we have one more round tomorrow, and I'm happy to be here [in this position]."

Bogeys came early and often for Lopez, who opened up her day with a par on No. 10 and followed it with three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12 and 13. That took three strokes off the 8-under mark she logged in the first round to lead the field.

Lopez birdied No. 15 and No. 18 to move back to 7 under and it appeared she might get it going again. But the bogey bug bit her again at Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 and she ended the day at 4 under.

"I try to be as present as possible, focus on my breathing, because there's no such thing as living in the past or living in the future," Lopez said. "You've gotta just learn from the present and live in the moment.

"Anything you can use to build confidence is a key part [of the game]. Today's pin decisions were a little tougher than yesterday, and I've just gotta just be as cool as possible with the next round."

Once Lopez made par on No. 9 to finish her day, her 4-over 75 had dropped her to 4 under overall. That left her tied for 42nd place in the field.

Still, Lopez said she thinks she's in a good spot heading into today.

"I know I can shoot a low round tomorrow," Lopez said. "That's not my goal. My goal is to commit to every single shot and see what happens because you never know with golf. I feel that just being in contention is fun."

Another former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville golfer Stacy Lewis joined Lopez on the leaderboard among the host of golfers tied for 42nd. After shooting a 5-under 66 on Friday, she shot a 1-over 72 in the second round to bring her total to 4 under.

After going par, par, birdie on her first three holes, Lewis remained steady until she bogeyed on No. 16. She got back on track with a birdie on No. 17 in front of a cheering pro-Razorbacks crowd, but the front nine proved to be her downfall. She bogeyed Nos. 2, 3 and 4 before getting her last birdie of the day on No. 5.

Familiar last names

Among the 144 golfers taking part in the tournament, a couple have last names that fans may recognize.

Mariah Stackhouse and Cheyenne Woods similarly have celebrity relatives, though their scorecards were not similar by the end of the second day.

Stackhouse is a distant cousin of Jerry Stackhouse, a former NBA basketball star who is now an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. After tying for 30th in the tournament's first round, a 2-under 66 in the second round dropped her overall score to 9 under and a tie for sixth.

Woods is a niece of golf star Tiger Woods, who followed a 3-under 68 first round with a 3-over 74 in the second to bring her back to an even par. A double-bogey on No. 3, a testing par-three that requires golfers to play over a large pond, seemed to be the biggest crux for her on the day.

On the hole, Woods didn't get enough on her tee shot and was noticeably worried that it wouldn't carry the water.

"Go, go, go, go," Woods implored the ball as it sailed toward the green.

Woods' fear was realized, as the ball dropped into the water, which forced her to take a drop. She followed that hole with a bogey and added another on No. 9 to finish her day and her tournament, as she missed the cut for the final round.

It's a girl!

As the sun set on Pinnacle Country Club Saturday night, a small gathering of family and friends set inside the grandstand on No. 18, waiting on a fireworks show.

When the sparks went off, the pink color sent the group into shrieks of delight.

Lewis, the former Arkansas All-American, held a gender reveal event to announce that she would be having a girl in November. She intends to play a couple of more events this season before shutting it down to prepare for the birth of her first child.

Sports on 06/24/2018

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