Hull Takes Command in Ohio

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Futures TourLIMA, Ohio -- She may be the new kid on the block, but second-week professional Katherine Hull is acting like an old pro at the Lima Memorial Hospital Futures Classic.
 
And the native of Queensland, Australia is acting right at home in Ohio, just as she did when she won her professional debut last week in Wisconsin. Hull fired a 6-under 66 in the second round to take a three-shot going into Sundays final round at the 6,007-yard Lost Creek Country Club. She also posted a 66 in Fridays first round for a share of the lead.
 
'Im ecstatic where I am right now,' said Hull, 21, who played her last college tournament for Pepperdine University three weeks ago at the NCAA Womens Division I Championship. 'My confidence is really high.'
 
Hulls 12-under-par, 36-hole total of 132 crashed last years two-round record of 9-under 135. The 54-hole total of 12-under-par 204, set by 2002 champion Soo Young Kim, is certain to be erased in Sundays final round.
 
'Shes tough and she stays patient,' said Erika Wicoff, who bogeyed the 18th hole and slid to third place at 136 with a second-round 70. 'When she made bogey today and got ticked at herself, she went on a birdie barrage with four straight birdies. Id just like to give her a run for her money tomorrow.'
 
Wicoff, a non-exempt player on the LPGA Tour from Hartford City, Ind., actually held the lead briefly when she birdied No. 11 and Hull took bogey on the same hole. The sixth-year LPGA pro also birdied the 12th, but Hull, miffed at her missed par save, ran off birdies on holes 12, 13, 14 and 15 to cruise to the 18th all alone at the top. Wicoff pushed her drive on the 18th tee and didnt get up and down for par on the last hole, taking bogey to give fellow non-exempt LPGA player Luciana Bemvenuti of Port Alegre, Brazil sole possession of second place at 135 with her second-round 67.
 
'Not bad for an old lady,' said Bemvenuti, a 10-year member of the LPGA Tour, who finished fourth at the Lima Memorial Hospital tournament in 1995. 'I had 25 putts today and a few more than that on Friday, so that is the big difference in how Im playing.'
 
The Brazilian began using an overlength putter in February after struggling with the yips for two years on tour. She took five months off from golf, became certified to work as a tax associate at H&R Block and spent her off-season processing 227 tax returns. The real return on her investment was gaining confidence with the long putter, removing the pressure she felt in her game and trying to make her opportunities count when she had them.
 
'This is not a long course and if you can hit the greens, youll always have a birdie chance,' said Bemvenuti, whose career-best finish has been tie for fourth on the LPGA Tour and second on the Futures Tour. 'You can really go low out here.'
 
And thats exactly what Hull is counting on for Sundays final round. The Australian learned how to start out quickly when she moved to three under after two holes in the second round with a birdie from 18 feet and an eagle putt from 40 feet. She finished the day with five more birdies, two bogeys, 14 greens in regulation and 27 putts. She made it look effortless.
 
But most of all, Hull showed she has her eye on the future. Now, shell just have to hold off a couple of seasoned LPGA pros on Sunday.
 
Seventy-four players made the 36-hole tournament cut at 147 (+3). It was the lowest Futures Tour cut this year by two strokes. Last years cut at this event was 145 (+1).
 
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