Weather Plagues Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaAugust 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourQUEENSTOWN, Md. -- She was one hole away from finishing, but first-round leader Smriti Mehra and her group were forced to suspend play for darkness today around 8 p.m.
 
Mehra, still leading the $65,000 Hunters Oak Futures Golf Classic, will resume the second round Sunday morning at 7 a.m. from the 18th tee, along with Kylie Pratt of Mackay, Australia and Brittney Bacon of Minot, N.D. A 36-hole tournament cut will be made once the trio has completed play and Sunday's final round will begin on schedule at 8 a.m. at Hunters Oak Golf Club.
 
'I probably could have hit my tee shot on 18, but we would have had to come back anyway on Sunday morning to play the second shot and finish the hole,' said Mehra a native of Calcutta, India, who is 3 under par for the tournament with one hole remaining. 'I'm totally disappointed because I don't want to wake up, play one hole, and then wait around for three hours to tee off again.'
 
But if it means that Mehra is the leader for Sunday's final round, she most likely can handle that little inconvenience of playing in the day's last group. Certainly, it's a place where the non-exempt LPGA Tour member wants to be, especially after a day when she lost three shots with four bogeys and a single birdie. Mehra, who blistered the undulating, links-style 6,370-yard, par-72 course on Friday with a six-under 66, struggled today.
 
'I just couldn't get any momentum,' she said, leaving the course in the dark. 'I had a one-and-a-half-footer for birdie on the 17th hole and I couldn't see the line.'
 
And while the field also struggled to regain momentum after a storm delay that lasted from 3:55 p.m. to 4:48 p.m., it was able to inch closer to Mehra's lead when she missed a green and didn't save par on the par-3 11th hole. Mehra also three-putted for bogey from 12 feet on the 12th.
 
Those two bogeys, combined with rookie Erica Blasberg's birdie on the 14th hole, catapulted Blasberg into a tie for the lead at 3 under par with four holes to play. But Blasberg gave up three strokes on the last two holes to fall back to even par, negating her birdies at holes No. 8, 10 and 14.
 
After a stacked-up, 10-minute wait on the 17th tee, Blasberg's approach shot into a headwind landed short of the green. She chipped to 10 feet, but missed her par putt.
 
'I was in my flow going into the 17th hole and then we just sat around with the wind picking up,' said Blasberg, of Corona, Calif. 'After that [bogey on No. 17], I was like 'OK, let's go to 18.' '
 
But her 8-iron approach on the par-5 18th flew wide right and landed just beside the water hazard bordering the green. Her ball position forced the 2004 Curtis Cup player to chip her fourth shot up to the elevated green.
 
'It was down deep and I had to try to chunk it out, kind of like a bunker shot,' she said.
 
But that precarious shot flew over the green, leaving Blasberg with a touchy downhill chip that didn't release. She two-putted from 6 feet for double bogey, dropping back into a tie at even-par 144 with Kristin Dufour of Austin, Texas and Caroline Goasguen of Montpellier, France.
 
'I just have to go out there on Sunday and make birdies to give myself a chance,' said Blasberg, who was visibly frustrated following her round.
 
Tied at 1-over-par 145 are Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., and Kathryn Cusick of Jacksonville, Fla. Pratt and Bacon, completing the second round on Sunday alongside Mehra, both stand at two-over-par with a hole to play. Five players, including top-ranked Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, currently are at 2-over 146 after 36 holes.
 
Rookie Kyeong Bae of Seoul, Korea fired the day's low round of 3-under-par 69. Bae is tied for 11th at 147.
 
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