Trio Takes Top Spot

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Futures TourALTAMONT, N.Y. -- Thirty-seven players posted under-par scores at Orchard Creek Golf Club in the first round of the $60,000 GE Futures Professional Golf Classic. By days end, three players were tied at 6-under-par 65, which eclipsed the tournaments 18-hole scoring record.
 
Firing rounds of 65 were Lindsey Wright of Albury, Australia, Nadine Ash of Richards Bay, South Africa and Janell Howland of Beaumont, Texas. The trio shattered the previous mark of 4-under 67 set last year on the 6,166-yard, par-71 course. The event is in its second year at Orchard Creek and has been staged in Upstate New York for 19 years, with a one-year hiatus in 1999.
 
Playing in her fourth Futures Tour event after graduating from Pepperdine University this spring, Wright was the clubhouse leader after the morning rounds. She took advantage of her laser-sharp wedge play to make the turn after her first nine holes with a 5-under-par score of 30.
 
'I was hitting a lot of knock-down shots and three-quarter 9-irons and it paid off big time,' said Wright, who recorded 28 putts for the day and drove the green on the par-4, 274-yard 14th hole.
 
Playing in her fifth season on the Futures Tour, Ash aced her second hole, No. 11, when her 9-iron on the 142-yard, par-3 hole found the cup for her first ace as a pro and her third hole-in-one within the last month. The 65 is her career-low competitive round.
 
'The greens are holding nicely and you can fire at them,' said Ash, who hit 14 greens and made 26 putts en route to her share of the first-round lead.
 
Playing in the final group of the day, first-year pro Howland, who played collegiately at Lamar University, said her iron play put her in position to make some putts. She recorded 28 putts for her effort.
 
'It was just one of those days,' said Howland, who played six Futures Tour events as an amateur in 2002. 'Ive worked hard on my putting for the last few weeks and its paid off.'
 
Lesley Henderson of Mandeville, La., and Kristin Dufour of Austin, Texas, posted rounds of 5-under-par 66 in the afternoon. It was a career-low round for both players. Henderson hit 17 greens in regulation to earn a share of the second-place position, while Dufour eagled the par-5, 485-yard 18th hole with a 45-foot putt to trim two strokes at the last.
 
'Ive always been a good two-round golfer and Ive made a lot of cuts, but I know if I can have two of three rounds that are pretty good, I can put three solid rounds together out here,' said Henderson. 'My struggle has been an internal struggle.'
 
Eight players tied with scores of 67, including two-time season winner Katherine Hull of Queensland, Australia and Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, currently fifth on the money list.
 
Five players tied at 68, including Futures Tour money leader Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., and second-week pro Celeste Troche of Asuncion, Paraguay, who scored the days second hole-in-one with a 9-wood on the 195-yard 17th hole. It was Troches third career ace and her second in competition. Both she and Ash were awarded $500 checks from the Donald T. Ostop Weekly Hole-in-One Challenge.
 
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