Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh, Rah Lead Futures Tour’s Season
Opener After Two Rounds in Florida

WINTER HAVEN, Florida. – It was “moving day” on Saturday in the second round of the $100,000 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, so Angela Oh and rookie Jane Rah took advantage of perfect weather and made their respective jumps up the leaderboard.
Oh picked the day to card her career-low round of 7-under 65 to take the lead at 137 (-7). Four groups later, she was joined by rookie Rah, who moved into a share of the lead with her second-day score of 5-under 67.
But by day’s end and heading into Sunday’s final round at Lake Region Yacht and Country Club, six players were jammed within four shots of the lead in the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s season-opening event.
“Being from New Jersey, I haven’t been on a course for three months,” said Oh, 21, a third-year pro from Maple Shade, N.J. “I’ve been all bundled up all winter, hitting balls on the range and pretty much putting on the carpet, so coming into this week, I just wanted to make the top-10 here and in the next tournament.”
Oh’s irons were red hot today. She hit 16 greens in regulation, setting up a bogey-free day that rendered 27 putts, five birdies and an eagle-3 on the par-5 18th hole. Her second shot on the last hole landed in a “bowl” indention around a sprinkler head in the 18th fairway. Oh fretted momentarily about the shot that needed to clear a water hazard in front of the 18th green. But still riding the momentum that had carried her all day, the 2009 LPGA Tour member pulled out her 50-degree A-wedge, struck her approach shot to five inches of the cup and watched it spin back into the hole for the eagle.
“My irons were awesome,” said Oh, who played collegiately for two years at the University of Tennessee. “I think this is the best I have ever played.”
Competing in her first Duramed FUTURES Tour tournament as a pro this week, Rah added another sub-par round to her scorecard and found herself slipping into match-play mode with pairings partner Garrett Phillips (69) of St. Simons Island, Ga., who was also pushing her way up the leaderboard for a share of fourth at 5-under 139 with Gerina Mendoza (67) of Roswell, N.M.
“Garrett inspired me and I almost felt like it was match-play,” said Rah, 19, of Torrance, Calif. “On a couple of holes, she unleashed it off the tee and I couldn’t really catch her, but on the greens, I rolled a couple in on top of hers. It felt pretty good.”
The rookie’s hot streak included four birdies on holes No. 9-14, and she capped off her single-bogey round with a 12-foot birdie on the 18th to charge into a share of the lead with Oh.
“My goal is to just keep knocking and if I win, I win,” said Rah, who played college golf last fall at Oklahoma State University. “I’d like to get top-10s every week, like Inbee [Park], and to consistently shoot under par.”
But Oh and Rah are trailed one shot back by second-year pro Cindy LaCrosse of Tampa, Fla., who has paired rounds of 69-69 to sit one shot off the lead at 6-under 138. LaCrosse won two Florida mini-tour tournaments last fall and has been building confidence ever since she graduated from the University of Louisville last spring, posted five top-10 finishes in 11 Duramed FUTURES Tour events in 2009, and earned 2010 LPGA Tour membership at LPGA Q-School last December.
“I’m happy with the way I played because I’m more consistent with where I am, my scores and the mental part of my game than I was last year,” said LaCrosse, 22, who hit 13 greens and 11 fairways in regulation today. “I’m still in it and I’m happy with where I am.”
Mendoza capitalized on her length off the tee on the par-72, 6,176-yard course. She birdied every par-5 hole on the course, playing the longer holes at five under today, compared to playing the par fives at one over in Friday’s first round. Mendoza carded six birdies and one bogey today, knocking her wedges close and needing only 25 putts to move from a tie for 20th into a tie for fourth.
“For me, it’s all about confidence,” said Mendoza, 24, who also has 2010 LPGA membership. “Coaches tell me there’s nothing wrong with my swing, so if it’s not my swing, obviously, it’s something in my head. I do believe in myself a lot more.”
Dewi Claire Schreefel of Diepenveen, Netherlands, also made a huge move with her second-round score of 6-under 66 to charge from a tie for 62nd into a tie for seventh at 3-under 141 alongside Esther Choe (68) of Scottsdale, Ariz., and one stroke behind Jenny Gleason (71) of Clearwater, Fla., at 4-under 140. Schreefel carded six birdies in her bogey-free round, with five birdies on hole Nos. 6-11.
“I tried to play safe and not make too many mistakes, and then I got things going,” said Schreefel, a second-year pro who won the Tour’s 2009 ING New England Golf Classic in Connecticut. “If I feel good and am hitting it well, I can get my groove going.”
Choe hit 14 greens in regulation and said she tried to hit to the middle of greens and make two-putts or better all day. That strategy worked, with Choe’s longest birdie putt being a 30-footer on No. 8.

“This is my best round in competition for a while,” said Choe, 20, the 2006 AJGA Rolex Girls’ Player of the Year and a two-time U.S. Junior Solheim Cup Team member.
Rookie Kendall Dye of Edmond, Okla., had the gutsiest round of the day, improving her opening-day score of 79 by 10 shots with today’s second-round score of 69 to jump from a tie from 122nd into a tie for 50th at 4-over 148.
“This is my first Duramed FUTURES Tour event and I had some nerves and jittery feelings yesterday,” said Dye, a 2009 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she was the captain of the women’s golf team. “I guess today’s score is kind of night and day with yesterday.”
Former England amateur international Rachel Connor, pictured above, daughter of Manchester Golf Club's Scottish-born professional, survived the cut on her debut on the Futures Tour.
A total of 22 players carded rounds of even-par 144 or better.
Eighty-one players made the 36-hole cut at 150 (+6).
Weather: Sunny with temperatures in the high-70s.