Lauren Doughtie of the LPGA Tour lines up a putt on the green of the 17th hole during Thursday's first round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg. Doughtie finished with a 77 on the par 71 course.
Lauren Doughtie of the LPGA Tour lines up a putt on the green of the 17th hole during Thursday's first round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg. Doughtie finished with a 77 on the par 71 course.

Doughtie comes home to play

Published 10:27pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lauren Doughtie of Suffolk returned to her home state this week, but this time, it was on business. She competed in the first round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg on Thursday, her first Ladies Professional Golf Association event in Virginia since she became a member of the LPGA Tour.

She finished the day with a six-over par 77.

“I’m a little disappointed, obviously,” she said. “Not exactly how I wanted to start; got a little work to do tomorrow. It’s different being at home. It’s great, but sometimes you add a little extra pressure.”

While she had seven bogeys and one double bogey, she also birdied the par-5 third hole and eagled the par-5 No. 7.

“I had an OK front nine,” she said. “I had a couple get away from me, but it kind of felt like I straightened the ship out a little bit, and then kind of hit a rocky patch on the back nine too. So, hopefully tomorrow I can have a pretty solid (round) straight through.”

She described what it was like to return to Virginia in the context of professional golf.

“It feels great to be home and to have so many people here supporting me, but you end up sometimes trying a little too hard, which makes things not go as smoothly as you’d like,” she said. “But it’s a great feeling (to have the support), and I hit some really good shots out there, and it pumped me up hearing everybody cheer for me.”

Doughtie said she recognized a lot of the people who followed her along the course, including her parents, Mike and Susan Doughtie, and her sister, Ashley.

Her father described his first experience of watching his daughter play on the LPGA Tour on Thursday as emotional.

“She’s a lot of pleasure to watch, and it was great to see all the people out here with her,” he said. “There were a lot of people from Elizabeth Manor (Golf and Country Club) today.”

“And people in our neighborhood,” Susan Doughtie said.

“And people I worked with years ago,” Mike Doughtie added.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy athletic director Betty Jean Riddick coached Doughtie when she was in eighth grade and when she was a senior at NSA. Work obligations stood in her way from getting to Williamsburg on Thursday and Friday, but she was holding out hope to come on the weekend.

“I am really praying that she makes the cut so I can go Saturday and Sunday,” Riddick said. “I’m very happy that she’s competing so closely that so many of her Nansemond-Suffolk Academy family can go see her.”

Doughtie’s longtime coach, T.J. Young, was at Kingsmill on Thursday to walk with her. Earlier that day, he related what it was like to witness a student of his back in Virginia as an LPGA competitor.

“It’s certainly a unique feeling,” he said. “It’s the first time it’s happened. Basically, it’s about her. She’s done everything to get to where she is. If I’ve played a part, it’s a very small part. She’s got the ability, she’s got the drive to be out there, doing what it takes to make it.”

The faces in the crowd were not the only things familiar to Doughtie on Thursday. The course was, as well.

“I’ve played out here quite a bit, growing up and everything not too far away,” she said. “So, I’ve seen this one a lot more than I’ve seen any other course that we play all year.”

With the support of family and friends, she hopes her knowledge and experience from prior rounds on the course will make for more birdies and eagles like the ones she had on Thursday.

“I know that I can make numbers out there,” she said.

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