Blasberg 62 Leads Futures


Futures TourCANTERBURY, N.H. -- Just in case second-week rookie Erica Blasberg was looking for affirmation about her decision to leave the University of Arizona early to turn pro, she likely got it after today's second round of the $65,000 Laconia Savings Bank Futures Golf Classic.
That's because the 20-year-old new pro fired a 10-under-par score of 62 to break the course record at Canterbury Woods Country Club.
She also set a new mark for the Futures Tour's 18-hole record (for a par-72 course) and established the 2004 season's low round -- all in her fifth round as a professional.
'Good decision, Erica,' said first-round leader Kris Tamulis of Naples, Fla., who carded her own 68 to drop into third place at 10-under 134. 'That's a really great score. Any time you shoot that far under par, you're putting great.'
'Wow!' said Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea, in the only English word of her post-round interview. Lee, 18, also a rookie, fired her career-low round of 8-under-par 64 to move into second place at 12-under 132.
And from a veteran of the Tour who heard about the score as word reached the practice areas: 'Shocking -- especially out here,' said Lisa Fernandes of Huntersville, N.C., who is tied for 40th at even-par 144. 'That's exciting. And it's good for our tour.'
Indeed, it was good all the way around. The native of Corona, Calif., carded 10 birdies and no bogeys, and recorded 16 greens and 24 putts for her sparkling round that included only one birdie on a par-5 hole.
'I tried not to look at the leader board or think about what I was doing,' said Blasberg, a member of the winning 2004 U.S. Curtis Cup team in June. 'I was just trying to pretend like I was battling back from shooting four-over par like I did last week. I was playing little mind games with myself out there.'
What she was playing was top-shelf golf. With the exception of her longest 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and a 15-footer on the first, Blasberg hit her irons from 2 feet to 6 feet for eight of her 10 birdies. She even saved par from an errant drive that ended up in the creek on the par-5 16th hole. But the rookie with the cool head and steady hand struck her must-have approach to within 3 feet at the 16th, then birdied the next two holes.
'It just feels like I put a few more shots together than normal,' said Blasberg, who said she planned to call her father, Mel Blasberg, the director of golf at Eagle Glen Golf Club back home in California tonight and coyly tell him 'everything seems to be working well.'
Tamulis, 23, the rookie from Florida State University, made some noise early when she posted six birdies on her first eight holes today to get to 12 under par. But Tamulis flew the green on her approach on the par-4 ninth hole, hit a poor chip back to the green, and then three-putted for double bogey.
'I didn't feel like I made horrible swings,' said Tamulis, daughter of retired golf professional Walt Tamulis. 'I just made a mental mistake.'
The Floridian righted herself with a birdie on the 10th hole, but in an unbelievable swing of misfortune for the player who's known for consistency, Tamulis doubled the par-3 13th when her tee shot sailed right over the flagstick. The ball hit, released about 30 feet past the hole and Tamulis four-putted from 35 feet.
That little gaffe opened the door for Blasberg, as well as for Lee, who has finished second two times this year and has remained in the top five on the Tour's money list all year even without a win. Lee posted eight birdies on the hilly 6,076-yard course and hit all 18 greens and all but one fairway in a round of complete consistency balanced by two nine-hole scores of four-under-par 32.
'I will try hard to win on Sunday and hope for another good round,' said Lee, with her uncle Steve Lee interpreting. Lee, who has won twice on the Korean LPGA Tour and was No. 3 on the 2003 KLPGA Money List, says she is ready to improve on her season-best runner-up status in the U.S.
But first she'll have to get past hard-chargers Malinda Johnson of Eau Claire, Wis., a rookie in fourth place at 135 (-9) and veteran Liz Earley of St. Catharine's, Ontario, who fired a 7-under 65 today to pull into fifth place at 136 (-8). Lee is poised to attack and Tamulis has a couple of holes she wants to play over.
Of course, Blasberg has the task of topping today's standout round on Sunday or simply playing enough 'little mind games' to move into the elite company among the Tour's 2004 winners. She is certain to improve upon last week's pro debut at the Stratton Mountain Futures Classic, where she tied for 19th.
'I played great college golf, but I felt it was time to really test myself,' said Blasberg of her decision. 'My dad and I debated the pros and cons of whether I should turn pro or not or if I was ready. It was a gamble, I guess.'
No Erica, it actually was a safe bet.
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