Neff carded three birdies on the day, two on the back nine and only bogey coming on the par 4 No. 14. Massey got off to a solid start in her opening round, carding three of her four birdies on the front nine and added another on the par 4 No. 14.
Martin came out of the gate slow and posted both of her bogeys within the first three holes on Nos. 1 and 3 but followed them up with birdie and par saves on Nos. 2 and 4. She went on to play a bogey-free back nine and carded four birdies on the day.
Shin started her day on No. 10 and shot even par on her first nine holes with no red on her scorecard. But some lengthy drives on the back nine put her in position to get birdies on Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9. Her two bogeys came back to back on the par 5 No. 6 and par 3 No. 7.
All four co-leaders are looking to capture their first-career victories on the Symetra Tour this week in Harris.
Meet the Island Resort Championship Leaders:
Aimee Neff (-2): The second-year Symetra Tour member is in good spirits back in the Great Lakes State where she has seen much success in her career so far. Neff, a Michigan State University alumnus, was a four-time All-Big Ten selection and recorded 13 top-10 finishes for the Spartans from 2008-2010. She is a two-time winner of the Illinois Women's Open (2008, 2009) and winner of the 2008 Indiana Women's Golf Association Match Play Championship. Neff has made two cuts out of her six starts this season and posted top-25 finishes both times. She recorded a career-best T4 at the Ladies Titan Tire Challenge in Marion, Iowa.
Courtney Massey (-2): The 2012 rookie has made the cut in each of her first three events on the Symetra Tour this season and has improved on her finishes each time out in competition. She is currently ranked No. 8 in the Rookie of the Year standings and is coming off a career-best T8 at the Tour's last event at the Tate & Lyle Players Championship in Decatur, Ill. The Gold Coast, Australia native turned pro after a solid amateur career in the land down under which included four victories, three coming in 2011.
Laura Martin (-2): The West Chester, Ohio native is in her second season on the Symetra Tour and is looking for a breakout week in Harris. Martin is on the cusp of making waves on the Tour and has made the cut in all six of her starts this season. She recorded a season-best T34 at the Ladies Titan Tire Challenge and wants to improve on her career-best finish of T10 last year at the Florida's Natural Charity Classic. Martin was a two-time All-Big Ten selection while playing collegiately at the University of Indiana and recorded 16 top-10 finishes, including one win, for the Hoosiers.
Michelle Shin (-2): Shin is in her second year on the Symetra Tour and is looking to improve on her career-best T78 at the 2012 Sara Bay Classic. The Cape Coral, Fla. native turned pro after an impressive career at Wake Forest University where she captured the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women's Golf Championship and was a 2011 NGCA All-American Honorable Mention selection. She has competed in several USGA events including an appearance at the 2009 U.S. Women's Open Championship as an amateur.
U.S. Open Momentum...Aimee Neff received one of the most exciting phone calls of her life as she was getting shuttled to the driving range at Sweetgrass Golf Club on Thursday. Neff didn't recognize the number, but answered any way and for good reason. She had been positioned high on the alternate list for the U.S. Women's Open Championship after a solid performance in her sectional qualifying at Big Foot Country Club in Fontana, Wisconsin back in May.
"I answered because any time I don't recognize a number I hope it's the USGA," said Neff. "I knew I was toward the top of the alternate list. I knew that I had a decent chance to get in next week and was just mentally thinking that I would play and just be ecstatic to find out beforehand."
Neff has been trying to mentally prepare for one of golf's biggest stages, but not even knowing if she'll really get the chance at it.
"My mindset was that I would go there and prepare like I was going to play in the tournament, just to be in the mindset that I wouldn't be so shocked that if I found out the day before," said Neff. "I'm glad I'm playing this week because I think sometimes when you just take off too much time, it would be too much thinking about it."
Neff could have easily taken this week in Harris easy and just as a warm up for the Open, but clearly was riding on the adrenaline in the first round from her call up yesterday. Neff holds a share of the lead heading into the weekend and is hoping to keep the momentum going. Heading to the national championship with her first-career victory fresh on her game would be helpful.
"I'm going there on Sunday after this anyways," said Neff. "It's on my way home so it works out perfect.
God orchestrated it perfectly timing wise with this and am so grateful for the opportunity."
The Carmel, Ind. native will try to keep her nerves under control as she takes center stage at golf's biggest show next week. She admits she's a player to get nervous but knows that it comes with the territory for playing in big tournaments.
"I'm someone who does," said Neff. "I think it'll be weird if I don't. We'll see. My parents will be there which will be nice to see familiar faces. I hope to have a few friends come because my parents will be so nervous. If I can find a good caddie I think that will help calm my nerves too."
Neff has her nerves in check this week and has some business to take care of before heading to the biggest event of her career.
"It's the pinnacle of women's golf," said Neff. "I joke that if I won the Open, I would retire."
Sweet Playing at Sweetgrass...Symetra Tour pros have been vocal about their approval of the venue this week at the Island Resort Championship and can agree that the hard work of the tournament staff and grounds crew at Sweetgrass Golf Club has paid off.
"The course is probably one of the nicest I've ever played I have to say," said Courtney Massey. "The greens are rolling really nice and are kind of tricky and the fairways are lovely."
Massey was quick to point out the hospitality from tournament staff and volunteers.
"The golf course is spectacular," said Massey. "I like it up here. The people are friendly and everyone's real honest and goes out of their way for you."
Second-year pro Laura Martin agreed. Martin missed last year's event because of "minor" conflict in her personal schedule.
"This is my first time here actually," said Martin. "Last year it was a week earlier and I actually got married that week. I guess that's a good excuse! The hospitality is unbelievable and the golf course is in perfect shape. Everything is plush and green and the greens are obviously rolling."
Rocky Start for Local Am...Local amateur Carley Saint-Onge didn't have exactly the start she had been hoping for in her second appearance at the Island Resort Championship. Saint-Onge, a Marquette, Mich. and Upper Peninsula native, is the representative of what Co-Tournament Director Tony Mancilla calls "U.P. Power" this week. Mancilla referred the supporting term at last night's Meet the Pros party when all the communities in the Upper Peninsula rally around high school teams and local sports teams who go and play opponents from mainland Michigan. Saint-Onge was disappointed in her opening-round 13-over par 85 but said she always enjoys playing in front of a crowd and representing the U.P.
"Having all my fans, friends and family come here is awesome," said Saint-Onge. "Being able to play in a professional tournament is really cool. Being the only one from the U.P. is different but I'm used to it. It's usually like that wherever I go."
Saint-Onge missed the cut in last year's event and wants to replicate her performance on day two and hopefully post a low score in the second round.
"I proved myself last year that I could bounced back and shot even par so I'm hoping to do that tomorrow. I've prepared as well as I could to get here, now I just have to go out there and do it."
Saint-Onge started her day on No. 10 and had a tough time on the back nine and posted three-consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 14-16.
"I started off pretty rough but gained a little momentum after the turn and played my best through that stretch of three through seven which I think are the hardest holes out here," said Saint-Onge. "Dealing with conditions, I think it played really hard out there. Of course I wish I had a better day and better start."
Saint-Onge said it was a highlight being paired with Kelly Jacques and Nina Rodriguez, both former Big Break contestants.
"It was cool," said Saint-Onge. "I played with Nina in a practice round so I met her before. I like to see their games and see how they manage a course that I've been playing on for a long time."