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Bailey Bish watched the U.S. Adaptive Open on TV 2 years ago. Now she leads after the opening round

NEWTON, Kan. — Two years ago, Bailey Bish watched the U.S. Adaptive Open on TV. It’s all she could do.

She couldn’t apply to play because she couldn’t complete 54 holes of play, let alone nine.

Now, she’s leading by a big margin after the first round.

Bish, 24, shot 3-under 69 on Monday at Sand Creek Station in the opening round of the 2024 U.S. Adaptive Open. Bish’s previous career best was a 71. She has a six-shot advantage in the overall women’s competition with 36 holes to go.

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“I had a great round today,” Bish said. “I started off a little rough with a bogey and then a par and another bogey, but I pulled it together and was able to finish strong.”

Bish, who’s competing under the neurological impairment category, won the inaugural Florida Adaptive Open in the fall and has started competing more often as her game has progressed.

Brendan Lawlor and Bailey Bish hug after the end of their round during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Adaptive Open at Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kan. on Monday, July 8, 2024. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

She said Sand Creek Station sets up well for her as a flatter golf course. If she had any issues Monday, it didn’t show in her score.

“Last year, I was struggling to finish. I was barely hanging on the last few holes of each round,” Bish said. “This year, I’ve really been able to finish a lot stronger beteween physical therapy and other treatments I’ve been receiving. I’ve improved a lot more.”

Bish bogeyed two of her first three holes but managed to shoot 1 under on the back, her opening nine. Then she turned and added three more birdies to one bogey, and it adds up to her best round ever in the biggest championship of her life.

“To do all of this hard work and see that it has paid off, it’s incredible,” Bish said.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek