The desert-terrain, links-style Sunrise Course at Underwood Golf Complex posed a challenge for the field with gusting winds, speedy greens and tight fairways. The desert was especially punitive on the 6,453-yard tract laid out in rocky soil. It was a terrain that made golfers understand why soldiers train for desert operations on the surrounding grounds of the courses Ft. Bliss U.S. Army home.
But at least one East Coaster, more accustomed to the Piedmont clay and green grass of North Carolina, cruised around the course at 4-under-par 68. Heather Angell of Winston-Salem, N.C., steadied herself in the wind and took the clubhouse lead. She made up her mind before her mid-day round that she would take what the wind gave her.
'The wind is going to take your ball places you dont expect,' said Angell, 23, who played collegiately at the University of North Carolina. 'I went out there and tried to stay focused. Honestly, I didnt know what I was shooting.'
Angell hit 13 greens, 11 fairways and used 30 putts with two three-putt greens for her 68.
Lisa Chang of Los Angeles was the morning clubhouse leader with a 2-under-par first-round score of 70. Me Na Lee of Seoul, Korea, also posted a 70 in the afternoon rounds.
'It gets kind of tricky when it starts swirling, and then you try to hit shots when the wind starts going down,' said Chang, a Pepperdine University grad playing in her second full Futures Tour season. 'It was a blessing that I got to play early this morning.'
Lee, a Futures Tour rookie, posted five birdies and battled pushed tee shots into the desert dirt, carding one bogey and a double bogey. But the four-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour kept her ball in play and birdied the 18th hole with a 15-foot birdie putt.
Futures Tour top money leader Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea could only smile and shake her head when asked about her plus-3 round of 75. 'Lets just say I had a busy day in the desert,' she said.