Walshe, who hails from Westford, Mass., bettered her previous career low round by one stroke and took a slight first-round edge over three players, including Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson, into Friday. World No. 1 Inbee Park was two shots back after shooting a 67. (With Walshe in the second-round afternoon wave, 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion Creamer had a hot start on Friday and was 3-under through seven holes to take over the frontrunner spot by two shots over Walshe.)
“I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year,” Walshe, who has scored 66s four times as a professional, most recently in the third round of the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, told reporters Thursday. “I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts. So I think the putting was key, and that's going to be key for me to really get the rounds going well.”
Walshe got off to a shaky start with a bogey on the par-4 10th but rebounded with eight birdies to take an opening-round lead for the first time since joining the LPGA in 2010.
“I three‑putted the first hole and I was like, ‘Here we go again,’” said Walshe. “Then one‑putted the next hole and got my confidence going. Made a lot of putts today.”
Walshe, by the way, would like to tote up some points to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team but she was born in Ireland and ineligible for the squad. She’ll have to wait until 2015, when new rules will enable her to compete for a spot.
“I love the fact that I now [will] have an opportunity,” said Walshe, who plans to attend the biennial contest next month in Parker, Colo., and cheer for her compatriots.
“I'm going to support the heck out of the team,” she said. “Hopefully I can just continue to play well to be recognized maybe for the future teams...but it's definitely another goal to try to achieve now that I can attain it.”