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Wendy Ward by One

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The McDonalds LPGA Championship began back in 1955 - the purse that year was $6,000 with $1,200 going to the winner. This years purse has increased to a bountiful $1,500,000 with $225,000 earmarked for the winner.

Competitors are raving about the condition of the golf course for this major saying its in great shape - perhaps the best shape ever. Tight fairways and small greens slanting from back to front make this old style golf course an ideal site for the third major of the season to take place.
 
Spectacular conditions, albeit hot and humid, have produced excellent first round scores. Akiko Fukushima and Becky Iverson completed their morning rounds at 5-under-par 66.
But it was Wendy Ward, playing through the afternoon winds, who recorded seven birdies and one bogey to take the lead by one stroke at 6-under 65.
 
Ward owner of two Tour victories made the turn at 5-under par after tearing up the back nine. She made bogey on the par-4 third but quickly recovered overtaking the early round leaders. Its just exciting to be in contention again, Ward said.
 
I just started to ride a nice little wave of comfort. Im starting to drive the ball well --drive it long and strait and Im finally getting to see some putts drop into that little cup.
 
Fukushima finished bogey-free Thursday while Iverson recorded six birdies and one bogey.
 
There is more at stake than the winners share of the purse this week when you take into consideration the potential historical significance of this week.
 
Take, for instance, Juli Inkster, who finished even-par 71 for the day. Shes a two-time defending champion at this event, having won in 1999 at 16-under and in 2000 at 3-under.
 
A win this week would put her name in the history books as one of only two players to have won a major championship three years in a row.
 
Then there is Laura Davies. Davies, winner of 20 LPGA Tour events, is two points - or one major - short of qualifying for the Hall of Fame. A win this week would make her the first Englishwoman to be qualify for the Hall of Fame.
 
Davies returns to the site of three career wins, two of which occurred as a member of the LPGA Tour (1994 & 1996).

Its a great golf course for my game. A lot of the holes require a left to right set-up which is perfect for me.
 
After another one of her career slumps, the long-ball hitter overcame her jitters to win this year's Wegmans Rochester International, thus ending a 13-month winless streak.
 
Im obviously a lot more confident now, not particularly with my driver, but with my irons and my putter.
 
Even though Davies stumbled through three bogeys, her first round finished at a respectable 4-under-par 67.
 
It wouldnt be a major without mentioning Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.
 
Webb and Sorenstam both lurked behind the leaders all day.
 
Sorenstam finished her round just moments prior to the horns blowing. At 5:20 p.m. EDT, tour officials suspended play due to inclement weather, and Sorenstam ' sporting a smile and a look of relief - was done for the day.
 
The weather picked up in what seemed like just two minutes, The winner of five titles this season said. For a while I thought a tornado was coming in. The balls were flying everywhere.
 
Sorenstam recorded four birdies and a bogey on the par-3 13th to finish at 3-under-par 68.
 
I worked with my instructor, Henry, last week, Sorenstam said. And I wasnt in the rough all day. I was never really in trouble.'
 
Webb's competitive juices are flowing. The Aussie could very well complete her career grand slam with a win this week, becoming the youngest and fastest to ever do so.
 
Webb finished in good position Thursday, tied for fourth at 4-under-par 67.
 
I got off to a quick start today and from there I felt pretty comfortable on the course, Webb said just moments after walking off the 18th.
 
I rolled a really good putt in for eagle on the 16th, Webb said of a round that consisted of three birdies, one eagle and a lone bogey.
 
The Australian, ranked second on Tour in greens in regulation with a 75% mark, has a simple strategy for the rest of the week: Fairways and greens, and hopefully the putter will roll a couple of putts in for me.
 
Annika won the first major of the year (Nabisco) and Karrie won the second major (U.S. Womens Open). The competition between the two is fierce. The third major is on the line and Sorenstam has her eyes cast on the prize.
 
I don't know what Karrie is up to but I know what I want.
 
Full-field scores from the McDonald's LPGA Championship