Trio Tied for the Lead

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Futures TourAVON, Connecticut -- Its a stretch to call the first round of the Lincoln Financial Futures Golf Classic relaxing. But for several players in the tournament field, the fairways of Blue Fox Run Golf Course were a welcome change from what they faced at last weeks U.S. Womens Open Championship at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
 
After the Open, these fairways look like theyre the size of Texas, said Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., who fired an opening round of 4-under-par 67 to tie for the lead with Seol-An Jeon of Seoul, Korea and Michelle Fuller of Jupiter, Fla.
 
Prammanasudh, who missed the 36-hole cut at the Open, rebounded Friday in the seasons 12th tournament, presented by Mohegan Sun. She got a quick start by holing out from a bunker from 20 yards on the first hole, then rattled in a seven-foot birdie putt on the fourth. By days end on the 6,156-yard, par-71 course, she had added birdies from 10 feet at the 13th and from 15 feet at the 16th to hold the clubhouse lead after the morning rounds.
 
I didnt play well here last year, so I felt like the course kind of owed me something, said Prammanasudh, who recorded 29 putts and hit 15 greens and 12 fairways.
 
Jeon also played in last weeks Open and missed the cut, but returned to the Futures Tour with a new putter, new driver and an improved dose of confidence.
 
I watched many players at the Open and I believe I am not much different than them -- than the LPGA players, said Jeon, who has four top-10 finishes this season on the Futures Tour. This course is wide open and the greens are easier than last week.
 
Fuller, in her fifth full season on the Futures Tour, birdied two of her first three holes, made the turn at 3-under 33 and recorded a three on six straight holes ' holes 8 through 13 ' to put herself in position for a share of the lead. Her par putt spun out of the cup on No. 15 and she three-putted for bogey from 20 feet on the 17th, but Fuller saved par on the last hole with a bunker shot to nine feet for her 67.
 
This course has some holes where you really have to place it well to have an opportunity at the pin, said Fuller, who hit 14 greens and used 28 putts in her round. Its a course where you have to play smart.
 
Kristy McPherson of Conway, S.C., Ju Kim of Seoul, Korea and Soo Young Moon of Keumsan, Korea finished one shot back at 68 (-3). Kim, the Futures Tour leading money winner, recorded five birdies and two bogeys for the day.
 
I dont have a house here [in the United States] and I didnt try to qualify for the U.S. Womens Open, so I just came here [to Connecticut] for two weeks and practiced, watched movies and went shopping, said Kim, who has one tournament win this year.
 
McPherson, a former All-American from the University of South Carolina who turned pro in early June, is playing in her fourth professional event and sees progress in her game this week.
 
The first round has been my struggle, so far, said McPherson of her young professional career. Its nice to finally start around the top. Now, I just have to stay there.
 
Tammy Lohren of Dandridge, Tenn., Yvonne Cox of Charleston, W. Va., and Kim Augusta of Rumford, R.I., all carded first-round scores of 69. Seven players tied at 1-under 70. Twenty-seven players finished the first round at par 71 or better.
 
Blue Fox Run teaching professional Suzy Whaley, who is preparing for her PGA Tour debut in the Greater Hartford Open (G.H.O), also is in the Futures Tour tournament field this week. Whaley opened with a 73 (+2), but said a mental lapse early in the round made her focus.
 
I bogeyed holes three, four and five and that ticked me off, said Whaley of Farmington, Conn., who is tied for 43rd. I started thinking about the G.H.O. and I think thats why I faltered. I know its got to be one day at a time. Sometimes I just forget to focus for the moment, but I got it back and Im proud of that.
 
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