Saturday, August 11, 2007


Rookie Taylor Leon picked the first round of the $80,000 Betty Puskar Golf Classic to card her career-low score of 65 in the rain-delayed tournament at Morgantown, West Virginia.
That seven-under-par total gave her a three-shot lead ahead of Vikki Laing of Musselburgh, D’Rae Ward of Weatherford, Texas and college-bound amateur Jessica Yadloczky of Casselberry, Fla., all at four-under-par 68.
But Leon will have to wait a little longer to get started in Saturday’s second round as 72 players were forced to return to The Pines Country Club for a 7:15 a.m. restart Saturday to complete the opening 18. The second round will begin Saturday at 9:30 a.m local time.
Duramed FUTURES Tour officials initially suspended the first round for unplayable conditions on Friday at 3:50 p.m., hoping to return to the course as heavy rains passed through the area. But with 3 ½ inches of rain soaking the course within the last week, considerable standing water made a restart impossible today. The course received more than a half-inch of rain today.
“We still have standing water on the greens, too much casual water and no way for players to get relief,” said Christy Barks, the Tour’s director of tournament operations. “The bunkers are starting to drain, but the fairways just need more time.”
Players will not be paired by score, but will remain in their first-round pairings for the second round. A flip-flop format will be used, with first-round morning tee times becoming second-round afternoon tee times, and vice versa.
“It’s too bad we had to suspend,” said two-time 2007 winner Liz Janangelo of West Hartford, Conn., currently fourth on the Futures Tour’s money list. “I had a flow going out there.”
Janangelo is at four-under par after 12 holes, while Kris Tamulis of Naples, Fla., Kellee Booth of McKinney, Texas and Tiffany Tavee of Gilbert, Ariz., all had moved to three under when play was suspended.
But with the good fortune of being among the morning tee times that all completed the first round, Leon got off to her hot start before the rains came. And the rookie admits that her ability to go low quickly in this week’s 16th annual event was aided by the thought of something said to her during a pro-am earlier in the week.
It was a harmless comment by an amateur in her pro-am group, but it must have fired up the Texan when the gentleman observed that, as the current 23rd-ranked player, she “probably didn’t have time to move into the top five on the Tour’s money list before the season is over to get one of the 2008 LPGA Tour cards.”
“It made me kind of mad,” said Leon, of Dallas, who completed two years at the University of Georgia before turning professional this spring and winning her first pro title in her second event on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. “Of course I have a chance and I’m going to try my hardest to get there.”
Leon took advantage of the wet greens and carded eight birdies and one bogey en route to her seven-under-par 65. She hit 15 greens in regulation, missed only one fairway and rolled in 26 putts on a day that was as solid as it was wet.
“Where you hit it today was where it stuck,” she said. “I felt real confident going for the flagsticks.”
Vikki Laing, pictured above, was the first player to jump onto the leaderboard with her 68. She started on the back nine and bogeyed the 14th when she misfired on her approach-shot yardage and club selection.
But the former collegian from the University of California-Berkeley got it right on the par-4 348-yard 15th hole. She hit driver, then had 91 yards to the hole. The Scot holed out from the fairway for an eagle 2 with her 52-degree wedge, then birdied holes 17 and 18 before making the turn.
“My whole focus this week was to be more creative because I’ve become too mechanical,” said Laing. “I did a pretty good job of it today and I stayed patient.”
When the first round was completed Saturday morning, Vikki Laing was pushed down to a share of third place.
65 Taylor Leon (Dallas, Texas) 31-34.
67 Liz Janangelo (West Hartford, Conn) 33-35.
68 D'Rae Ward (Weatherford, Texas) 33-35, Vikki Laing (Musselburgh) 34-34, Jessica Yadloczky (Casselberry, Florida) (am), Kellee Booth (McKinney, Texas) 33-35, Kelly Lagedrost (Brooksville, Florida) 35-33.
Other scores:
74 Natasha Morgan (South Wales) 35-39.
76 Polly Willett (London) 36-40.