Midway • Tess Blair missed the Women’s State Amateur last July after winning the 2018 tournament. So this week’s event could be considered a title defense for her, and she’s off to a great start.

A Bingham High School graduate who plays golf for Sacramento State, Blair posted a 5-under-par 67 in Monday’s first round of stroke-play qualifying on Soldier Hollow’s Gold Course. She’ll go into Tuesday’s second round with a five-stroke lead over 16-year-old Grace Summerhays, the 2019 runner-up, and Chanikan Yongyuan, a Southern Utah golfer from Thailand.

Four-time champion Kelsey Chugg is tied for fourth place at 75. The field will be reduced to 16 golfers for match play Wednesday and Thursday. The cut will come at about 12 over par. BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu, the defending champion, will need a comeback after opening with an 82 that included a triple bogey on the par-3 No. 17.

With an early starting time Monday, Blair knew she could take advantage of considerably less wind at Soldier Hollow. After a somewhat slow start, she got going. Her only bogey came on the par-4 No. 4. Once she became more precise with her wedge shots, Blair produced six birdies on the last 13 holes of the 6,290-yard course – slightly longer than the usual white-tees setup.

“Everything just kind of clicked today,” said Blair, named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year as a freshman after the shortened 2019-20 college season. “It was exciting to see. I haven’t played this well in a little bit, so it was good.”

Blair missed last year’s Women’s State Am in Logan while accompanying her sister, Sirene, to a professional tournament.

Summerhays and Yongyuan played together in tougher conditions in the afternoon. A three-putt bogey on No. 18 cost Summerhays an under-par round; Yongyuan got back to even par with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

First round, stroke play
67 – Tess Blair. 72 – Grace Summerhays, Chanikan Yongyuan. 75 – Lila Galeai, Laura Gerner, Kelsey Chugg. 76 – Carissa Graft, Sunbin Seo, Jadan Gonzalez, Naomi Soifua. 77 – Launa Wilson, Taitum Beck. 78 – Cassie Campos, Poy Praturswong, Lauren Taylor, Cora Mickelsen. 79 – Kanna Crosland, Berlin Long. 80 – Annette Gaiotti, Millie Terrion, Rachel Lillywhite, Hannah Gleason.