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Teens Setting Pace at Futures Tour Q-School

Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- If there is any question about the impact of young talent in women's golf, all one needs to do is glance at the leading scores after two rounds of the FUTURES Golf Tour's Qualifying Tournament.
Amateur Angela Park, a 17-year-old senior at Torrance High School, fired the day's low round of 65 at Schalamar Creek Golf Club on a day that featured a seven-birdie, bogey-free round. The teen from Torrance, Calif., moved into a three-way tie for the lead at 137 (-7) with amateur Song-Hee Kim, 17, of Seoul, Korea, and UCLA collegian Amie Cochran, 19, also of Torrance, Calif.
'The scores were kind of low in the first round and I shot even par,' said Park, who hopes to play on the 2006 FUTURES Tour as an amateur until she can turn professional on her 18th birthday in August. 'I was like, 'Wow! I'd better get going.''
So the teen, who lost to top-ranked Morgan Pressel in the semifinals of this year's U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, focused on hitting her approach shots to a 'birdieable range' in today's second round. For her effort, Park's longest birdie putt was 15 feet and her putter produced 25 putts and a giant smile from the nation's fourth-ranked amateur girl.
'It's been my goal to turn pro since I was 9, so I came out here this week to try my best,' said Park, who won an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) event in Alabama last month. 'If I get FUTURES Tour status, I'll play as an amateur until I can turn pro. I can already sense a difference out here from AJGA events. Most of these players are older than me, but I can learn a lot from them.'
Playing in her first tournament in the United States, Kim said she felt 'more comfortable than yesterday' in today's round at Huntington Hills Golf & Country Club -- one of the three courses used in this week's qualifier. The Korean teen said she learned about the FUTURES Tour through one of her friends, Sun Young Yoo, who earned 2006 exempt LPGA Tour status by finishing in the top five during the 2005 season. Kim described her experience this week as 'no stress, just having fun.'
And fun it was for the trio of teens. But others, including FUTURES Tour veteran Cherie Zaun of Glendale, Calif., weren't so sure about the 'fun' aspect of 'Q-School.' Walking to the scoring tables, Zaun was overheard declaring, 'Childbirth is easier than this.'
First-round leaders Nikki Garrett of New South Wales, Australia, and Lynn Valentine of East Lyme, Conn., again posted sub-par rounds today. Garrett and Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas, are tied one shot back at 138 (-6), while Valentine is alone at 139 (-5). Lang added a second consecutive round of three-under 69 today at Cleveland Heights Golf Course, while Garrett carded a 2-under-par 70 at Huntington Hills.
'The weather conditions were ideal for scoring today,' said Lang, 20, who tied for runner-up honors this summer at the U.S. Women's Open Championship. 'My game feels great. I've just been trying to work up to this and get back into competition.'
Sukjin Lee Wuesthoff, 19, of Toms River, N.J., carded an even-par 72 at Huntington Hills (141), while Salimah Mussani of Burlington, Ontario posted a 69, and Lee-Anne Pace of Mosselbay, South Africa carded a 4-under-par 68 to tie Mussani at 142 (-2).
Six players are tied at 1-under 143, while six others are tied at even-par 144.
Third-round play begins Thursday at 8 a.m. off the first and tenth tees at all three golf courses. The field will be cut after 54 holes to the low 100 players and ties, with the final round staged Friday at Cleveland Heights.