Crowded Leaderboard at Futures Tour Event


Futures TourLIMA, Ohio -- Six players are tied for the lead at 5-under-par 67 after the first round of the $70,000 Lima Memorial Hospital Futures Classic. It was a day at Lost Creek Country Club in which 33 players finished under par and 55 played at even-par 72 or better.
'It's shaping up to be a good weekend,' said Stephanie George of Myerstown, Pa., who was the first player of the half dozen to card a 67 on the old-fashioned 5,973-yard tract that features narrow tree-lined fairways and tiny greens.
George would later share the lead with three other players from the morning rounds. Playing in the same group was Beth Hermes of Dixon, Ill., and third-week rookie pro Perry Swenson of Charlotte, N.C., who both carded their own 67s to join George for the lead. Rookie Hye Jung Choi of Seoul, Korea added the final 67 of the morning to grab her share of the lead.
Hot and humid conditions ushered in afternoon thunderstorms and play was suspended at 1:51 p.m. By the time play resumed at 3:40 p.m., much of the humidity had lifted and players in the afternoon were greeted by more receptive greens and less oppressive summertime weather.
Veteran professional Kelly Cap, a non-exempt LPGA Tour member of Youngstown, Ohio, was the first of two players in the afternoon to grab a share of the lead. The 32-year-old player hit 14 greens and rolled in 27 putts in a bogey-free round that included five birdies for her best start in six years on the Futures Tour.
'My short game was really good today and if you can stay patient, there are a ton of birdie holes out there,' said Cap, who is still looking for her first professional win. 'The course is very scorable, so you have to make as many birdies as you can.'
Playing in the last group of the day and finishing her round at nearly 8:30 p.m., Jamie Stevenson of Mayfield, Utah, posted the final 67 of the opening round and said she spent the weather delay taking a nap in her car out in the parking lot.
'This was the first time in a long time when I felt relaxed and at ease, and that has always been my difficulty,' said Stevenson, 28, in her fourth Futures Tour season. 'I think I've had to get beaten up out here to learn that this is just a game. It's not everything. And that helped me today.'
Stevenson used her length to play Lost Creek's par-five holes in three-under-par. So did Choi, who carded an eagle-3 on the par-five 13th hole when she hit the green in two shots and drained her 12-foot putt for eagle.
'I'm playing very close to the way I want to play,' said Choi, 20, who not only used her length to trim three shots on the par-fives, but also used a cooperative putter with 28 putts in her round. Choi has finished second twice this season, losing each in a playoff.
'This feels really good, because I've only been out here for three weeks,' said Swenson, 22, who graduated from the University of Texas a month ago. 'At least I know I have the game to compete out here.'
Defending champion Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., carded a four-under-par 68 to join a four-way tie with Julie Turner of Skaneateles, N.Y., Naree Song of Seoul, Korea, and Jan Dowling of Bradford, Ontario. Seven players, including Nicole Castrale of Palm Desert , Calif. , who has won the last two tournaments on the Futures Tour, are tied at three-under 69.
'I've defended a title once before in junior golf, so I'm not afraid,' said Downey, who carded a bogey-free, four-birdie round. 'I have a lot of great memories here and I know I can play well here on this course. The leaders are going to go low every day and I really think there's a 10 under out there.'
It's safe to say that an entire tournament field is hoping Downey is right in that prediction this weekend.
Saturday's second round of the 54-hole event will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and tenth tees. The leaders will tee off at 2:10 p.m.