Pair Tied on Futures Tour

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Futures TourAVON, Conn. -- For Stephanie George, today's share of the lead kept the momentum going from her previous week. For Valerie Osborn, who has missed all seven tournament cuts this year, her share of the lead was that long-awaited sign that better rounds are in sight.
 
'This is my low score, ever,' said Osborn, of Kildeer, Ill., a third-year player, who tied with George for the first-round lead of the GMAC Futures Golf Classic at four-under-par 67. 'Today, I trusted my clubs and trusted my reads on the green. It was all about trusting myself.'
 
George, who tied for second last week in Decatur, Ill., made her charge mid-season last year. The third-year player has gotten off to an earlier start this season with top-five finishes in Kansas and Texas in April, and a near-win last week.
 
'I'm right where I want to be,' she said after her morning round on the par-71, 6,154-yard Blue Fox Run Golf Course. 'And it would be OK if somebody comes in this afternoon and shoots 65 or 66. It would give me the motivation to come out and shoot another low number in the second round.'
 
But no player from the afternoon wave emerged to pass the morning leaders. The day's low scores came out of the morning rounds with Osborn and George setting the pace in perfect, windless scoring conditions. Also playing in the morning was Tour veteran Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., who carded a three-under-par score of 68 to trail the clubhouse leaders by one shot. The afternoon leader, first-week rookie Meaghan Francella of Port Chester, N.Y., later joined Murphy. The University of North Carolina All-American got off to a solid start in her Futures Tour debut with her own three-under-par score of 68.
 
Five players recorded two-under-par scores of 69 in the first round, including last week's winner Aram Cho of Seoul, Korea and rookie Jeanne Cho (no relation) of Orlando, Fla., who suffered a case of food poisoning last week during the U.S. Women's Open qualifier in Rochester, N.Y.
 
Blue Fox Run gave up two eagles on the par-5 third hole and two more on the par-5 fifth hole today. But the key for the morning groups was the smooth-surface greens. Osborn hit 14 greens and finished the day with 27 putts, while George sunk five birdie putts from ranges of two feet to 20 feet.
 
'My ball striking has been good, but my putting has saved me,' said George, of Myerstown, Pa.
 
Osborn's putting allowed her to take her game to a new place. A walk-on at Southern Methodist University, Osborn graduated in 1997 with a degree in business and went to work in the logistics chain supply side of Corporate America. She had a steady job with regular income, but she hated being behind a desk. With her parents' blessings and financial backing, she embarked on her biggest challenge yet -- trying to earn a paycheck playing professional golf.
 
'This is a work in progress, but I believe things are going to come together for me,' said Osborn. 'Those three years away from golf made me a stronger person. I knew if I didn't try to play out here, I'd regret it. You can never really rest in golf, but today is a real confidence builder.'
 
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