Pat Hurst Leads Oldsmobile Classic
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Pat Hurst made the move from the maternity ward to the leader board look positively easy.
Hurst, just 10 weeks after giving birth to her first child, shot 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to grab a 2-stroke lead over Karrie Webb in the first round of the LPGA Oldsmobile Classic.
Marilyn Lovander, Rosie Jones, Dottie Pepper and Sweden’s Eva Dahllof were one shot back of Webb at 67. Cindy McCurdy, Kelli Kuehne and Laura Philo were bunched at 68 at soggy Walnut Hills Country Club.
This is actually the second tournament for Hurst since giving birth June 18 to a son, Jackson. She missed the cut last week in the Firstar Classic.
``I feel very comfortable this week,″ said Hurst, whose first LPGA victory was at Walnut Hills two years ago. ``My stamina wasn’t real good last week. I felt better today. This course wasn’t as hilly.″
Hurst made it look almost easy in a bogey-free round in which she birdied five holes on the front side and three on the homeward nine. She punctuated the round by hitting a lob wedge to within five feet for her final birdie at No. 17, a par-4 that has been shortened to 286 yards for the women.
``Missing the cut last week might have been a blessing in disguise,″ said Hurst, who began her maternity leave May 28 after the Dinah Shore, in which she was trying to defend her first triumph in a major. ``I went out Sunday and worked really hard on my swing, and got it back where I want it.″
Webb, who tops the LPGA circuit with six victories and more than $1.2 million in earnings, used a devastating short game to great advantage. She twice pitched to within two inches of the flag on the rain-softened greens.
``Obviously, when you hit it to within a couple of inches, you don’t have to make any putts,″ Webb said. ``But I also putted pretty well.″
Webb’s only bogey came at the par-3 fourth where she failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
Lovander, who will be exempt on the LPGA circuit next year, took advantage of a custom-built driver that arrived Wednesday for a 5-under 67. The 44-year-old Lovander, who also was exempt in 1992, finished second to Grace Park on the Futures Tour money list.
Lovander shared the first-round lead at Sutton, Mass., three weeks ago, but a second-round 75 led to an eventual tie for 23rd in the tournament won by Mardi Lunn.
Jones, who beat Upper Peninsula favorite Becky Iverson and Jan Stephenson in a playoff last week at Beavercreek, Ohio, had to scramble for her bogey-free round. She made a 10-foot putt to save par from a bunker at the par-3 13th, and saved from four feet on the par-4 ninth, Jones’ final hole.
``I’m kind of riding the wave of last week,″ said Jones, who is ninth on the money list with $438,418. ``My playing partners were kidding me. I was missing it well.
``That’s what confidence will do for you. I don’t feel like I’m going to miss a shot right now.″
Divots: Cindy Figg-Currier and Kelly Robbins, both from Mount Pleasant, Mich., had a rather large gallery of relatives following their round. Figg-Currier, 39, used to be Robbins’ baby-sitter as a teen-ager. ``She was a good kid. I never had to spank her,″ Figg-Currier said. ... Webb is quick to admit she wants to stay in first place on the money list. The money is nice, of course, but Webb figures it also enhances her chances of being named Player of the Year. ... Juli Inkster, second on the money list, about $140,000 behind Webb, skipped this week’s tournament to return home to Los Altos, Calif. She needed to get her children enrolled in school. ... Other past winners in the field are Barb Mucha, Jane Geddes, Beth Daniel, Dale Eggeling and Michelle McGann.