Nari Kim Takes Day 1 Futures Tour Lead


Duramed FUTURES TourDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Duramed FUTURES Tour rookie and former LPGA and Korea LPGA (KLPGA) member Nari Kim parlayed five birdies into a first-round lead at the inaugural $100,000 AMERICAN SYSTEMS Invitational on Friday at the LPGA International Legends Course. Kim shot a 67 and carries a one-stroke advantage over non-exempt LPGA member and University of Virginia grad Leah Wigger, who fired a 4-under-par 68. Kristen Samp of Moberly, Mo., is in third with a 69 (-2).
'It was steady golf on the front nine but somehow on the back nine I ran into more trouble, so it was kind of a strange way to do it,' Kim said. 'I actually had more birdie chances on the front nine than the back nine.'
While Kim might be a rookie on paper with the Duramed FUTURES Tour, some background research on the first-year player reveals an experienced veteran who has put her time in with the LPGA and KLPGA. Last season, she recorded a career-best tie for 17th at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay on the LPGA Tour. A native of Seoul, South Korea, Kim blazed through the morning sun to carve out five birdies on the scorecard and take an early lead heading into Saturday's second-round action.
Coming off of a 16th-place tie in the season-opening Bright House Networks Open in Lakeland, Fla., Wigger had her sights set on bigger things in Daytona Beach. The former four-time Academic All-American at Virginia stormed through the back nine with four birdies including back-to-back birdies on No. 17 and 18 to head into the clubhouse.
'I played pretty well, I putted awesome,' said Wigger, of Louisville, Ky. 'I had 24 putts on the day. I just had one really bad hole and ended up doubling No. 7. It was just a great round with solid ball-streaking and solid play.'
Wigger could tell the momentum was on her side on the 13th hole when she hit a drive that caromed near the trees, but received a lucky bounce. On her ensuing provisional shot, Wigger stuck the ball three feet from the pin to set up her birdie streak. As a senior at UVA, Wigger tied for second at the 2006 NCAA Fall Preview at the LPGA International Golf Course and has played the course on numerous occasions, prompting her to call it a home course.
Two-Time 2007 Tournament Champion Leon Finds Red Numbers in Season Debut
Two-time Duramed FUTURES Tour winner Taylor Leon made her anticipated season debut in Daytona Beach and finished at 1-under par with a 71 in her first round of the year. The top individual at the CIGNA Golf Classic in Bloomfield, Conn., and the Betty Puskar Golf Classic in Morgantown, W.Va., as a rookie, Leon captained the winning pro-am team earlier in the week and battled back from a bogey on her first hole today to rattle in three birdies on the front nine.
'I definitely played better than what I have been playing,' said Leon of Dallas. 'I hit the ball well and made some good putts, but I feel like I could have played better. I don't know why that first hole always gets me, but I just stayed focused, made a birdie (on No. 5) and calmed down.'
Leon is no stranger to the LPGA International Course, finishing at 2-under par in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament last fall to earn conditional status and tying for fourth at the 2006 NCAA Fall Preview in Daytona Beach with the University of Georgia. She also tied for 33rd at the 2004 Rolex Junior Girls Championship.
A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour and two time first-team NGCA All-American in Athens, Ga., Leon was ninth on the Duramed FUTURES Tour money list as a rookie despite playing only eight events.
AMERICAN SYSTEMS Makes Corporate History
The second tournament on the calendar of the Duramed FUTURES Tour schedule signified the first sports-sponsored event for the Chantilly, Virginia-based AMERICAN SYSTEMS. Founded in 1975, the company provides systems engineering, technical and managed services to government and private sector customers. Executive Vice President Bobby Christian was on hand with Duramed FUTURES Tour CEO Zayra Calderon in Daytona Beach to present awards following the pro-am tournament and was on a team led by second-year Duramed FUTURES Tour player Caroline Larsson of Stockholm, Sweden.
March Madness Extends to the Links
With the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament coming to a close in San Antonio, Texas, the college rivalries continue to heat up on the course - just ask former UCLA Bruin Mo Martin and former North Carolina Tar Heel Ashley Prange. The pair set up a bet for dinner between Martin's Bruins and Prange's Tar Heels if they meet in the title game. UCLA would have to knock off Memphis and UNC would have to down Kansas for the showdown to take place. Martin's former teammate at UCLA, Bridget Dwyer, helped her pro-am to a second-place finish. The Jayhawks are represented on the Duramed FUTURES Tour roster by rookie and 2007 Big 12 champion Amanda Costner, who is not in the tournament field this week.