Internet star Spiranac debuts with 77

Paige Spiranac is trying to show that she is more than a woman with model looks trying to play golf.

The 22-year-old Spiranac, who is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and played at San Diego State, shot 5-over-par 77 in round one of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in her debut on the Ladies European Tour.

That might not have won over her critics, who said she received a sponsors exemption only because she has become an Internet sensation on the last year with more than 500,000 followers in Instagram and Twitter.

“I know a 77 is not the best score, but I broke 80, and I know people were putting bets on it,” said Spiranac, who won the Colorado State Match Play Championship in July. “They were saying I wasn’t going to, so at least I got that going for me.

“My short game kept me going in the first part of the round and toward the end I started to get my rhythm back, and hit some pretty good golf shots, Hopefully, I can carry that over to the second round and just play how I know I am capable of playing.”

Spiranac said she heard negative the pre-tournament buzz and was so upset that she cried in her hotel room on Wednesday night, and was so nervous on the first tee that she duck-hooked her opening drive on the 10th hole, but settled the nerves by saving par.

In fact, she parred her first six holes before carding two straight bogeys and made her only birdie on the fourth hole. She finished the round in a tie for 94th, one place ahead of 2015 Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch of Sweden in the field of 108 players.

And it could have been better, but Spiranac found the water on the ninth hole and closed with a double-bogey 6.

“Overall, it was a pretty good round except for the shot on the last hole, where I hit into the water,” said Spiranac, a first-team All-Mountain West selection for the Aztecs in 2013. “Yes, I am pretty happy with how it went for my first round and considering how nervous I was.

” … I understand where they are coming from. I’ve played golf and have had good results, but when you look at my game compared to the top players in the world, I’m not in the same league.

“But I wish they could see that I’m working as hard as I can. I may make it; I may not make it. But I’m just trying to focus on what I need to do to get to the next level and trying not to focus on what they say.”

One player who did not criticize Spiranac was Dame Laura Davies, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Give the kid a chance was Davies’ message.

“I mean, good luck to her,” said Davies, who has won 84 times in her career. “Everyone needs a chance, and if she’s a good player, then it’s great she’s here. If she’s here for any other reason than she’s a great golfer, then it’s a little bit pointless.

“But we have to give her a chance.”

Liz Young of England and Carmen Alonso of Spain shared the first-round lead at 6-under-par 66. Davies was tied for fourth at 68, and Beth Allen of San Diego and Cal State Northridge was tied for 15th at 70.

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