Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Casey Grice fired a first-round, 6- under 66 on Wednesday and she holds an early 1-shot lead in the final stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School.
Grice has played in just one LPGA Tournament in her career and that was at the 2013 North Texas LPGA Shootout, where she missed the cut. Grice spent last season on the Symetra Tour and recorded three top-10 finishes without a win.
The field was split between two courses at LPGA International. Half of the field played on the Arthur Hills Course, while the other half was on the Rees Jones Course.
Ryann O'Toole, Ju Young Park and Maria Hernandez are all right behind Grice following matching 5-under 67s. O'Toole was on the Rees Jones Course on Wednesday, while Park and Hernandez played the Arthur Hills Course.
Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, is tied for fifth at 4-under 68 along with Elizabeth Nagel. Both Woods and Nagel played on the Rees Jones Course.
Grice, starting on the front nine on the Rees Jones Course, kicked off her first round with a birdie at the first, quickly getting her into red numbers. Grice coasted through the next seven holes with seven straight pars before finishing the front nine the same way she started it, with a birdie on nine.
Making the turn at minus-2, Grice continued to play well on the back nine. Following a par on 10, Grice drained back-to-back gains on 11 and 12. After a trio of pars from 13, Grice did it again with another pair of birdies on 16 and 17, getting her to 6-under.
Grice finished off her bogey-free round with a par at the last to conclude a strong first day.
"I just hit the ball really well today," Grice said. "I tried to pick my targets on each hole and just stay patient, just take each shot as it came and then I made some putts. First probably bogey-free round in competition for sure."
O'Toole started on the back nine in round one and was quickly under par with a birdie on 10. She rattled off five straight pars before pouring in her second gain on 16.
O'Toole made the turn with six straight pars from 17. She finished up strong and vaulted herself up the leaderboard. O'Toole made three birdies on the final five holes at five, eight and nine to get within one of the leader Grice.
Park also began with a birdie at the first and later added another one at the fifth. Park dropped her first shot with a bogey on No. 6, but she responded two holes later with her third gain of the day on eight.
Following a trio of pars from nine, Park made back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 before exchanging a bogey on the 15th with a gain on the 16th. Park finished up her round with her seventh birdie on 18 to grab a share of second place.
Hernandez got started with a birdie on the first, but she later gave that shot back with a bogey on seven. She then ripped off three straight birdies from eight to get to minus-3.
After five straight pars from 11, Hernandez made another pair of birdies on 16 and 17, putting her at 5-under. Hernandez closed things out with a par at the last to end there.
Woods made five birdies in her round on five, seven, 12, 13 and 18 to go along with a bogey at the first. Nagel had four birdies in a five-hole stretch from eight and she added another gain on 18. She also made one bogey on 14.
NOTES: The top-20 finishers this week will earn category 12 status on the LPGA Tour priority list, while those finishing between 21 and 45 get category 17 status ... Those who do not earn category 12 or 17 status will still be eligible to compete for a spot on the Symetra Tour priority list.