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Oh Maria Maria

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Amidst Humpback whales, rainbows, and some of the most spectacular yet distracting scenery one could imagine, one woman stood out ahead of the rest of the field.
 
Maria Hjorth tied the course record during the first round of the second annual LPGA Takefuji Classic by carding six birdies to finish the day at 5-under 67. Her first round, virtually error free, was subject to a lone bogey that came on the par-4 first.
 
Hjorth is no stranger to the winner's circle having captured two wins in 1999 - at the SAFECO Classic and the Mizuno Classic - yet today is only the third time in her last 11 rounds in which she has broken par.
 
Don't count defending champion Karrie Webb or Annika Sorenstam out of the race just yet.
 
Webb thinks she may be getting her timing back. That's good news for her, but not so good for the rest of the 132 competitors in the field left apoplectic by Bermuda grass greens on the Big Island this week.
 
Webb teed off the backside late in the day wasting no time before making birdie. The Florida resident made the turn at 3-under-par after completing a run of birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th and finishing off with one the 457-yard 18th. She finished tied amongst 14 others at 2-under-par 70 after posting four birdies and two bogies - one of which came on the last, the par 4 ninth.
 
Annika Sorenstam unveiled her 2001 game this week while making her season debut. Sorenstam took some time off to relax and ready herself for the New Year. 'This is a good place to start the season,' Sorenstam said in a press conference earlier this week.
 
'My last tournament was last year, December 18. And after that, I was a little tired. I really needed a break. So I didn't touch a club for four weeks. Then I started practicing again three weeks ago and I'm ready to go. I really like this course. And I have a lot of good memories from last year.'
 
Sorenstam is currently tied with Webb and a host of others at 2-under after carding five birdies and three bogies.
 
Grace Park is home again. Park lived in Hawaii from 1991 to 1993 before moving to Arizona. Yet today was a struggle for the former resident. Park found herself tied for 58th position after shooting a disappointing 2-over-par 74.
 
Another Park, Gloria, found herself in the field after Amy Reid withdrew due to a knee injury. Park, native of Seoul, South Korea and citizen of Sidney, Australia, made the most of her opportunity by carding two-under-par. She is now tied for eight place with 14 others including Karrie Webb.

Kris Lindstrom took a ride on the bogey train Thursday. While ever-so-rare raindrops fell on Kona, a city distinguished as being the driest city in America, Lindstrom fell victim to the tricky 325 Bermuda grass greens.
 
A myriad of bogeys littered her round. This coupled with double-bogey on the par 5 sixth and triple on the par 4 ninth, left the four-year veteran and recent Q-School graduate gasping for mercy after carding 12-over-par 84 to finish dead last.
 
No matter who leads at the end of the day Friday, tomorrow is shaping up to be a great show.
 

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