U.S. Adaptive Open Day 1: New venue leads to record scoring

Bailey Bish plays a shot at the U.S. Adaptive Open.

Bailey Bish made U.S. Adaptive Open history Monday.

Jeff Haynes/USGA

Defending U.S. Adaptive Open champion Kipp Popert arrived at Sand Creek Station this week and liked what he saw.

“There’s not too many hazards out there. The fairways are quite forgiving, and I’m a very good wedge player, that’s my strength, and putting. To be honest, it’s a lot of drivers and wedges,” Popert said Sunday. “I think the scoring could be pretty good this week.”

Popert backed that up Monday during the first round of the tournament. The 25-year-old from England birdied three of the first four holes at Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kan., and played his last three holes in three under to grab the lead after a seven-under 65 in Round 1 of the men’s side of the U.S. Adaptive Open.

Thanks to six birdies and an eagle in all, the 65 is the lowest score by two shots in the tournament’s short history.

Playing in the Neurological Impairment category, Popert, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, is hoping to continue his run of dominance through adaptive golf. After winning at Pinehurst No. 6 last year, Popert won the 2024 G4D Open in May to hold both the British and U.S. adaptive national championships.

He leads the overall men’s division by two strokes and leads the Neurological Impairment category by eight.

“This course is set up for scoring,” Popert said. “There is not too much rough. It’s quite, yeah, almost semi-rough to be honest, if you miss the fairways. And the fairways for me — coming from Europe — are massive.

“I know if you play this course and just play smart you’re going to make a lot of birdies. It’s keeping the bogeys off that’s my priority to be honest.”

But should he prevail this week, not only would he become the first multiple-time U.S. Adaptive Open winner, but he’d also be the first to win the title outside of Pinehurst.

The third edition of the event has been moved from Pinehurst No. 6, where the first two championships were contested, to Sand Creek Station, about 30 miles north of Wichita, Kan., and Popert was not the only player to take advantage of a more forgiving venue.

When Popert won in 2023, his winning total was two-under par and only three players (all male) were in red figures. After one round, there are 10 males and one female under par.

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Three of those players came from one grouping. Chad Pfiefer, Brendan Lawlor and Bailey Bish all took it deep on Monday, shooting 68 and a pair of 69s, respectively.

“Definitely helps when you have other people in the group that are playing really well. It’s nice to feed off them, both of them,” said Pfeifer, a U.S. Army vet who lost his lower left leg in a 2007 explosion while serving in Iraq. He’s also appeared on the Golf Channel reality shows “Big Break” and “Shotmakers.” “Brendan came out of the gate and birdied the first two holes and then just kind of kept it going.

“Bailey was amazing. I mean, she was just steady the whole day and made some great putts. Really fun for her to shoot that low.”

Bish’s three-under 69 wasn’t just her career best by two shots. It was the first-ever under-par round by a woman in the U.S. Adaptive Open. She leads the overall women’s division by six strokes over defending champion Ryanne Jackson, who are both playing in the Neurological Impairment category. Kim Moore, who previously held the record of 73, is also at three over with Jackson, but she’s playing in the lower limb impairment category.

“This course is flatter, which definitely sets up well for me,” Bish said when comparing Pinehurst and Sand Creek Station. “Really my game has improved so much over the last year. I think that is what has allowed me to perform so well this year.”

U.S. Adaptive Open Round 1 Leaders

You can find full scoring here.

Men’s Overall:
1. Kipp Popert, 65 -7
2. Juan Postigo, 67 -5
T3. Chad Pfeifer, 68 -4
Simon Seungmin Lee

Women’s Overall:
1. Bailey Bish, 69 -3
T2. Ryanne Jackson, 75 +3
Kim Moore

Men’s Intellectual Impairment:
1. Simon Seungmin Lee, 68 -4
2. William Jacobse, 74 +2
3. Kody Conover, 76 +4

Women’s Intellectual Impairment:
1. Amy Bockerstette, 81 +9
2. Natasha Stasiuk, 84 +12
3. Tessa Trojan, 87 +15

Men’s Lower Limb Impairment:
1. Juan Postigo, 67 -5
2. Chad Pfeifer, 68, -4
3. Austin Brown, 71 -1

Women’s Lower Limb Impairment:
1. Kim Moore, 75 +3
2. Mandi Sedlak, 79 +7
3. Nancy Lee, 82 +10

Men’s Multiple Limb Amputee:
1. Evan Mathias, 69 -3
T2. Erik Bowen, 71 -1
Issa Nlareb

Women’s Multiple Limb Amputee:
1. Rose Veldman, 85 +13

Men’s Neurological Impairment:
1. Kipp Popert, 65 -7
2. Vince Biser, 73 +1
3. Ford Martin, 75 +3

Women’s Neurological Impairment:
1. Bailey Bish, 69 -3
2. Ryanne Jackson, 75 +3
3. Chris Oviatt, 77 +5

Men’s Seated Players:
1. Thomas Duffy, 75 +3
2. Max Togisala, 76 +4
3. Mariano Tubio, 77 +5

Women’s Seated Players:
1. Annie Hayes, 90 +18

Men’s Short Stature:
1. Brendan Lawlor, 69 -3
2. Kurtis Barkley, 70 -2
3. Ricky Reilly, 74, +2

Men’s Upper Limb Impairment:
T1. Chris Willis, 72 E
T1. Robert Walden
3. Eli Villanueva, 74 +2

Women’s Upper Limb Impairment:
1. Cathy Walch, 81 +9
2. Sophia Howard, 83 +11
3. Abigail Davis, 86 +14

Men’s Vision Impairment:
1. Kiefer Jones, 72 E
2. Tyler Cashman, 87 +15
3. Jake Olson, 91 +19

Women’s Vision Impairment:
1. Amanda Cunha, 81 +9

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.

 

 

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