Cho Starts Strong in Indiana


Futures TourMERRILLVILE, Ind. -- Teenager Aram Cho is like any other 18-year-old who spends her free time playing video games, watching DVDs and listening to music. But like Kobe Bryant, her favorite NBA player, she knows when to turn on the scoring machine.
And thats what the native of Seoul, Korea, did in todays first round of the $70,000 New Innsbrook Country Club Futures Golf Classic. The shy, baby-faced teen ' called Pooh by friends ' opened with a 6-under-par 66 at Innsbrook Country Club to set the pace for the field on the 6,067-yard, par-72 course.
I didnt realize I was 5 under after nine holes, so maybe I was just kind of lucky, said Cho, with an interpreter.
Lucky? How about lethal on the courses par-5 holes? Cho birdied four of the six par-5s, posted a total of seven birdies and one three-putt bogey, and rattled in 29 putts to continue the no-fear style of play that gave her a second-place finish three weeks ago at the Tours last tournament in Albuquerque, N.M.
But Cho, currently ranked fifth on the season money list, will have some competitive company in Fridays second round. Allison Hanna of Portland, Ore., fired a 5-under 67 today in her first round as a professional on the Futures Golf Tour. Hanna finished 12th individually last week at the NCAA Womens Golf Championship, then the Ohio State University senior turned pro earlier this week. Her bogey-free round today included five birdies and 27 putts worth a bucket of confidence.
I came in here and didnt know how I was going to do, said Hanna, 22, who didnt get to play a practice round because she was competing in a U.S. Womens Open Qualifier in St. Louis earlier this week. This gives me a lot of confidence to know I can play out here.
Naree Song of Seoul, Korea, was the only other player in the 144-member field who scored in the 60s in todays first round. Song carded a 3-under-par 69 that included a 6-foot par-saving putt on the 18th green. She posted six birdies and three bogeys for the round, one week after playing in the LPGA Tours Sybase Classic in New York alongside her twin sister, Aree Song, a member of the LPGA.
Playing those LPGA events makes these tournaments feel a little easier, said Song, 18. But Ive let opportunities slide by out here. I think I just have to step up and do it.
Six players, including recent Duke University grad Virada Nirapathpongporn of Bangkok, Thailand, turned professional this week. The Duke star also was one of six players who finished at 2-under-par 70.
I know I shouldnt approach this any differently than the NCAAs, but theres something different about it, said Nirapathpongporn, who admitted to being nervous prior to todays opening round. I told myself to close my eyes and feel comfortable.
Twelve players also found their respective comfort zones, tying at 1-under-par 71. A total of 21 players posted sub-par opening rounds.
This weeks event, presented by Horseshoe Casino, will be contested over 54 holes, with the final round set for a Saturday finish. Fridays second round will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and 10th tees. The leaders will tee off at 2:09 p.m.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The New Innisbrook C.C. Futures Golf Classic