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Newcomer Ahead at Corning Classic

May 22, 1998

CORNING, N.Y. (AP) _ Sara Hallock is not the most recognizable name on the LPGA tour.

Colleen Walker shrugged. ``No, I don’t know her.″

Tammie Green was baffled, too. ``I had no idea who she was. I have not seen that name before.″

Hallock’s name is atop the leaderboard at the Corning Classic. Making only her second LPGA start, Hallock shot a 5-under-par 67 Thursday to tie Green for the first-round lead.

``I looked at the scoreboard on every hole,″ Hallock said. ``I’m so excited my name is on top.″

If her performance stunned the field, it was understandable. The 25-year-old Hallock has only been playing golf for eight years. Until the golf bug finally bit, her sport was field hockey _ she was a two-time All-America at Stanford University.

``The reason she didn’t play golf was that she played field hockey, soccer, baseball, and ran track,″ said Hallock’s father, Bob, a one-handicap golfer who is caddying for her here.

Although she played only once for Stanford as a walk-on _ ``I did terribly,″ she said _ Hallock persevered, working for the Stanford men’s team for a year and a half after graduating with a psychology degree in 1994.

Now, her vast sports background is helping to ease any butterflies she may be feeling here.

``I had a lot of pressure situations, and I sort of can rely on that as far as being under pressure,″ said Hallock, who joined the LPGA in October.

Walker, Brandie Burton and Stephanie Lowe were one shot behind the leaders at 68. Jane Geddes, who had seven birdies before faltering with two bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine, led a group of seven players at 69.

A fast course, wind gusts over 30 mph that blew down a tree along the 10th fairway, and temperatures dropping through the 60s made play difficult all day. Still, Hallock, who started on the back nine during the relative calm of the early morning, managed four birdies and an eagle on the 449-yard, par-5 fifth hole.

``I like it when it blows,″ said Hallock, who tees off in the last group today under what were expected to be similar playing conditions. ``The wind doesn’t really bother me. I think it makes me concentrate more.″

Hallock said she knew it was going to be a good day as soon as she teed off on the 364-yard, par-4 No. 10.

``I chipped in from way above the pin,″ said Hallock, who finished 39th at the LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge in April. ``It broke 15 feet right, and I said, `Here we go.‴

Green made a strong run during the blustery afternoon. She had two birdies and an eagle on the front nine and went to 7-under with birdies at 11, 12 and 14 before bogeying the next two holes to fall back into a tie for the lead.

``I felt so solid on the first 13 holes that my confidence was high,″ Green said. ``I just felt relaxed playing. If I could play that easy all the time, it would make this game a lot easier on my mental state. But unfortunately this is golf and it creeps in every once in a while.″

For a while, it seemed that Green, playing in a twosome with Rosie Jones after Barb Mucha withdrew because of a bad back, would have sole possession of the lead until she faltered. But after last year, when Green watched Jones hole a 50-foot putt on the first hole of sudden death to become the first two-time winner of this event, it was a good start considering the conditions.

``On 14, I got a little jittery,″ Green said. ``I birdied the hole, but I just didn’t feel like I felt the previous 13 holes. I don’t know whether that was just a little fatigue creeping into the round or just all the changes in temperature.″

Jones, the two-time defending champion, wasn’t so lucky with a 1-over 73. But she remained optimistic.

``I’m only one shot back of where I started last year, so it’s not like I shut myself out or anything,″ she said. ``I’ve got to keep plugging away and play the way I know I can.″

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