The roof caved in on Emilee Klein the night before the first round of the inaugural Asahi Ryokuken International Championship in September.
She opened with a 69, not bad for an asthmatic who spent a sleepless night in her hotel room dodging chunks of plaster and breathing in ceiling dust. "I never moved out of my hotel so quickly," Klein said. "They offered me a free room, and I said I'd rather sleep in my car."
In her return to Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club this week, Klein is sleeping and breathing much easier, but that didn't exactly help her Thursday in her quest to match last year's 69.
The 27-year-old Klein did, however, play herself into contention after firing a first-round 1-under-par 71, good for a tie for seventh place with eight others.
"I played pretty solid and the course is playing very difficult," said Klein, who finished second in last year's tournament. "The fairways are getting firmer and the greens are getting really firm, and the pins were in some really difficult places today, so I'm very happy with my start."
Hard greens and challenging pin placements made scoring difficult, as Laura Davies shot a 5-under 67 and Grace Park finished with a 3-under 69. Janice Moodie, Jeong Jang, Carin Koch and Dawn Coe-Jones are tied for third at 2-under 70.
"There's a lot of tough pin placements out there, especially for Thursday," said Moodie, who also touched on the firmness of the greens. "You expect it on Sunday. But the slopes of the greens are just really, really tough to read, and if you get on the wrong side of the hole, it's a good par you're going to make."
Said Coe-Jones: 'I thought (the pins) were quite surprising for the first round, very definitely. Looking at some of the spots for tomorrow, we're in for the same adventure."
Klein said the adventurous Mount Vintage terrain is a welcomed challenge, adding that the course suits her game.
"This is such a fun golf course; I just love being here," Klein said. "It has such great character and definition of where you have to hit it in the right place, and that really plays into my game."
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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