Pratts Opening 67 Gives Her Futures Tour Lead

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Futures TourDECATUR, Ill. -- Kylie Pratt has played in her sister's shadow for years. But with The Championships starting at Wimbledon next week, maybe the younger golf-playing sister wanted to give her sibling, world-ranked tennis player Nicole Pratt, a little family nudge. So the golfing Pratt carded a 5-under-par 67 today to take the lead of the $70,000 Michelob ULTRA Futures Charity Golf Classic.
 
'It's been really difficult not to play how I know I can play,' said Pratt of Mackay, Australia, now in her fourth season and still looking for her first professional win. 'I know I can shoot those numbers, but it's been about a year since I've done it.'
 
Pratt spent the early part of this week working on her wedges. That wedge work paid off in today's first round at Hickory Point Golf Course, where she hit her wedges close and converted seven birdie putts within 12 feet. Her short game, combined with a hot putter, rendered 24 putts and the first opening-round lead she has held since the first round of the Futures Tour's 2004 event in Albuquerque, N.M., last May.
 
'I made everything I looked at from 12 feet,' said Pratt, who tied for third at the 2004 ANZ Masters in Australia, topping fellow Aussies and LPGA stalwarts, Karrie Webb and Rachel Teske. 'Today was just one of those days when you know things are going to go right.'
 
And it also went right for Sun Young Yoo of Seoul, Korea and Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario, who tied one shot back at 4-under-par 68. Like Pratt, Yoo's putter was a pal with 25 putts on the day. The 18-year-old rookie carded a bogey-free round with four birdies and credited a new Titleist Scotty Cameron putter for getting her back on track with her flat stick.
 
And with three top-10 finishes in eight starts this season, the two-time member of the Korean National Golf Team said she has tried to remain patient in her attempt to win.
 
'It has been frustrating, but I try not to think about it,' said Yoo with the translation help of fellow Futures Tour member Aimee Cho of Seoul. 'I might be a rookie, but I'm ready to win.'
 
Sharp nearly notched her first Futures Tour win two weeks ago with her second-place finish in Kankakee , Ill. A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour, Sharp could choose to divide her time between the Futures and the LPGA Tours, but instead, she has focused on the Futures Tour and has climbed into the No. 9 spot on the seasons money list.
 
Today, Sharp continued climbing up the leaderboard, opening her round with a birdie from 12 feet and an eagle-3 on the par-5 second hole from 6 feet. For the day, she hit 14 greens and rolled in 29 putts.
 
'I didn't make many mistakes and all of my birdie putts were inside 15 feet,' said the Canadian. 'I played here last year and I know the scores were low. I tried to hit it close and make some good putts.'
 
A pack of eight players tied at 69 (-3), including third-ranked Kyeong Bae of Seoul, Korea, second-week rookie Lisa Ferrero of Lodi, Calif., and Lisa Fernandes of Jacksonville, Fla., who tied for second at this tournament in 2003. Fernandes (who previously played as Lisa Strom), reached 6-under par after 11 holes in today's opening round, but bogeyed three of her final six holes on the 6,456-yard course.
 
'I know if I make putts here, I have a chance,' said Fernandes, a long hitter who reached 15 greens in regulation, but used 30 putts in her opening round. 'Still, I'm happy with my start. Tomorrow's another day.'
 
Joining Fernandes in that group at 3-under-par 69 were Katie Quinney of Jacksonville, Fla., Tamara Johns of Queensland, Australia, Meredith Duncan of Shreveport, La., Su A Kim of Seoul, Korea and Cristina Baena of Pereira, Colombia.
 
Eleven players are tied at 70 (-2), while 14 are tied at 1-under-par 71. All total, 38 players carded rounds of par-72 or better.
 
With that many players only a few shots off the lead, Pratt knows she'll have to produce some birdies to stay ahead of the pack -- and maybe even give her tennis-pro sister a little incentive to carry the family name high next week at Wimbledon .
 
Saturday's second round of the 54-hole event, presented by Ameren and Miles Chevrolet, will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and tenth tees. The leaders will tee off at 2 p.m.