Trio Tied in Augusta

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Marianne Morris, Vickie Odegard and Laura Diaz got a taste of Mount Vintage Golf Club in North Augusta, S.C., during the first round of the Asahi Ryokuken Augusta International.
 
The inaugural event holds the distinction of being the last full-field event of the season. As such, it will see a lot of jockeying for positions as players do their best to finish in the top-90 with exempt status for the coming season.
 
Thirty-six-year-old Morris of Middletown, Ohio - one of a foursome that made the 42-hour drive from Portland to Augusta - led the field today with her opening round of 5-under-par 67.
 
Morris was clearly in good spirits later in the afternoon. When asked with whom she had driven, the first round co-leader joked with reporters: Ive been sworn to secrecy. Im not allowed to tell anybody.
 
I really wanted to play this week, because I graduated from South Carolina, she continued. So it was pretty important for me to get here. So my only option was driving. And fortunately I had three other people as stupid as I was to go.
 
Morris, winless on the LPGA Tour, was the first player of the day to finish in the 60s. My job today was fairly easy, she said. Its just, youve got to hit it in the right spot. You hit some shots off line and its going to make it pretty difficult.
 
It was a round that started off with bogey on the par-4 1st. Then she quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies on the next two holes. The trio of birdies that followed left the 13-year-veteran making the turn in 32 strokes. When I make putts Im going to shoot low numbers because I generally drive the ball well,' she said. 'Im really pretty solid with my irons. I hit a lot of greens. So my biggest problem with my game is the putter comes and goes.
 
Prior to today, Morris best finish this season was a tie for ninth at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic. Her career-best finish was recorded at the 1996 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic where she finished second behind Joan Pitcock.
 
Morris is currently 110th on the money list with $49,137.
 
Fellow American Odegard recorded an error-free round. She was the first to match Morriss score. Like Morris, Odegard made the long drive from Portland. Forty-one hours later she was at her home in North Carolina, where she spent exactly one day.
 
I got in on Sunday, spent 24 hours there, and then came down here Monday night, the five-year veteran said. When Im home for one day it seems like a month. I think doing that helped me quite a bit.
 
Odegard needs to play well this week, as this has been a disappointing year. The Virginia native has missed the cut in 50 per cent of the events shes has played in this season and is currently 107th on the money list with $52,055.
 
Floridian Diaz quickly matched Odegards efforts by opening with 6-under-par 66 error-free round. I felt pretty good about my round today, Diaz, currently ranked seveth on the money list, said. Went out with no expectations and finished with a 67. So ... pretty happy with that.
 
Nancy Scranton, Kris Tschetter and Grace Park finished just off the mark at 4-under-par 68. The threesome is in good position heading into Round 2.
 
Pros dont always know what theyre getting into with a first-year event, and this was especially true of this week's event. But they know now that Augusta had a very hilly course with undulated greens stimping at lightning fast speeds (10.5) in store for them.
 
Mount Vintage GC is a course that demands accuracy off the tee and deftness on the green, as many a player found out.
 
You have to be accurate with your iron shots, Annika Sorenstam said Wednesday while discussing her game plan for the week. I figured you should be short of the pin on 16 of 18 holes. I would rather have an uphill putt than a downhill putt. Sorenstam recorded 1-under-par 71 today.
 
Jen Hanna and Diana DAlessio had a very tough day. Both finished tied at 8-over-par 80. Hanna recorded seven bogeys while DAlessio finished with 10 bogeys and two birdies.
 
Play was suspended at 5:10 p.m. with 76 players yet to complete their round.