Hurst, Mallon Lead First Round
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Pat Hurst has had a love-hate-love relationship golf and Meg Mallon has been fighting a painful shoulder inflammation.
Both seem to be feeling upbeat right now. Hurst and Mallon shared the lead at 5-under-par 67, going into today’s second round of the rain-soaked Office Depot Pro-Am, the second stop on the LPGA tour.
Hurst abandoned the tour _ and golf _ in 1993 after a frustrating start to a professional career tarnished her outstanding college and amateur play. She later took a job teaching golf and again begin to enjoy the game.
``I told my husband, `I think we have to try again,″ Hurst said Wednesday after her opening round in blustery weather.
Mallon was told last October, after a winless year, that her inflammed shoulder needed either surgery or an intensive strengthening program. She chose the latter and hit the weights, and says it seems to be working.
``I’m definitely a lot stronger, but sometimes it swells a little bit,″ she said after her 5-under tied her for the lead. ``It doesn’t hurt, but it affects my flexibility.″
Both leaders, along with all the other players, may again be tested by blustery weather. Thunderstorms sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean during the night dumped as much as 5 inches of rain on parts of Palm Beach County, and scattered showers were expected through the day.
Neither played here last year in the first LPGA event at Ibis Country Club but it didn’t seem to matter in Wednesday’s play. Hurst had six birdies and a bogey and Mallon made five birdies on the 6,195-yard Heritage, one of two courses being used this week.
``I never thought about the next hole because I had never seen it,″ Hurst said.
After a birdie and a bogey midway through the front nine, Hurst sank birdie putts of 3, 15 and 20 feet at the sixth, seventh and eighth holes, and added two more birdies on the back.
Mallon made birdie putts of 2, 6 and 4 feet on the back nine, which she played first, and 3- and 8 footers on the front.
``I just seemed to be able to pick the right club for the wind,″ Mallon said.
Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson and Alicia Dibos of Peru were a stroke back after 68s. Wendy Ward and Maggie Halpin were low on the adjacent, 6,277-yard Legend course, with 69s.
Defending champion Kelly Robbins opened with a 72.
The 80-player pro field will play the Legend for the last two rounds, finishing on Saturday to avoid conflict with the Super Bowl on Sunday. The winner of the $600,000 tournament will earn $90,000.