Notes Final-Hole Anger Mallon Contending

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2005 U.S. WomenCHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- Dina Ammaccapane's first drive, though low, nearly cleared the water down the left side of Cherry Hills' 18th hole. Her second one wasn't really close.
 
Finally, on the third try -- her fifth shot -- Ammaccapane cleared the water.
 
She still wasn't done.
 
Unable to reach the green from the thick rough right of the fairway, Ammaccapane chopped a wedge out to the bottom of the hill. Her seventh shot hit the green and bounced through, then she chipped on and made the putt -- for a quintuple bogey nine on the 459-yard par-4.
 
``It's too long,'' said Ammaccapane, who shot a 12-over 83. ``The green's too small for a long iron and the long woods you're hitting up there. Either push it back and make it a par 5 or move us up and make it a good par 4.''
 
Ammaccapane wasn't the only one frustrated with No. 18 in the first round of the Women's U.S. Open on Thursday.
 
The uphill brute played almost a stroke over par at 4.727 and there were no birdies among the 132 players who came through before play was suspended. Only 57 players walked away with par and 14 had double bogey or worse, including triples by Kimberly Williams, Marisa Baena, Esther Choe and Mollie Fankhauser.
 
``A par on that hole, I'll take every day,'' said Paula Creamer, who's par on 18 helped her to a 3-over 74. ``It's a really good hole. A birdie on that hole is like getting two shots on everyone.''
 
That's for sure.
 
Not only is it the longest par-4 in the Open's 60-year history, it plays uphill and has a green designed for a par-5, which the members at Cherry Hills play it as. The fairway also slants severely from right to left, pushing drives toward the water down the right side and leaving players with hanging lies.
 
Only 18 percent of the players with morning tee times hit the green in regulation.
 
``You have to hit it perfect,'' Ammaccapane said. ``You have to hit it perfect down that left side, then you have a hook lie and you're 180 uphill. Is the green going to be receptive to a 4-iron? I don't know. It's not going to be a birdie hole, obviously.''
 
UNLIKELY LEADER:
Brittany Lang is going to turn pro later this summer. She already has a nice entry on her resume.
 
Lang, a 19-year-old amateur who just won a national championship at Duke, shot 2-under-par 69 to share the first-day lead at the U.S. Open with Angela Stanford.
 
Lang said she felt she was playing well after her practice round Wednesday, but wasn't sure how she'd handle her nerves when the galleries showed up and the shots really started counting.
 
``I just figured I'd try to go out and play golf like I'd been playing,'' she said. ``Sure, I'll still be nervous but it'll be a lot of fun.''
 
She opened with three birdies over her first seven holes to get to 3-under and was in the lead alone going into the 18th hole. But she hit her second shot off the grandstand and made bogey to finish tied.
 
``I was actually happy with a bogey there,'' she said of the hole that was playing nearly a stroke over par.
 
BACK IN TIME:
Meg Mallon waited 13 years before she won another U.S. Women's Open. That's enough to inspire Liselotte Neumann, who won her first Open in 1988.
 
Neumann, the pioneer of Swedes like Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour, opened with a 1-under 70 to stand one stroke out of the lead.
 
``I think any time you see a player that won something a long time ago, or anybody that's getting up in age, it's always nice to see,'' Neumann said. ``It gives you the feeling that if you work hard and you stay in good shape, that you can win. Everybody feels that way.''
 
Mallon was 41 when she won the Open last year.
 
Neumann, 39, has won only once on tour in the last seven years.
 
MALLON IN CONTENTION:
Defending champion Meg Mallon opened with an even-par 71, putting her right in the thick of things after Thursday's first round.
 
Better yet, she seems to have worked out the season-long problems she's had with her driver.
 
Once of the straightest drivers on the LPGA tour, Mallon entered the U.S. Open ranked 79th in driving accuracy. After finding a driver she likes -- her 14th in 10 weeks -- on the range Wednesday, Mallon went out in the first round and hit 10 of 14 fairways, with two others finishing in the first cut of rough.
 
``It was just so nice and normal,'' Mallon said. ``I hit fairways and greens. I had birdie opportunities.''
 
DIVOTS:
U.S. Open media assistant Bill Crumley drowned Wednesday evening while boating on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minn. Crumley, who was at the men's U.S. Open in Pinehurst last weekend, was 43 and is survived by his wife, Kimberly, and children, Ben and Ali. ... Leta Lindley didn't get the tournament off to a great start, hitting into the water on No. 1 and taking a triple-bogey. She rebounded nicely, though, getting a birdie on the par-3 sixth and 12 straight pars to finish 2-over. ... Ammaccapane's disaster at No. 18 wasn't her only trouble on the back nine. She had five other bogeys and made the turn at 10-over 46. ``It was a good nine,'' she said with a smirk. ... Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche was among those in the gallery following fellow Swede, Annika Sorenstam.
 
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