Neumann leads Jamie Farr Classic

Liselotte Neumann shooting six-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Liselotte Neumann capitalised on the attention given to fan favorites Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez, shooting six-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. Sung Ah Yim, Reilley Rankin and Michelle Estill opened with 66s and 18 players were within three shots of lead, including four-time tournament winner Se Ri Pak. "This golf course is always great for me," Pak said after her 68. Neumann birdied three of four holes after making the turn and finished her round with a birdie. She was consistent all day and stayed away from any bogeys. "I putted very, very good today and drilled the ball," said Neumann, the 40-year-old Swede who won the last of her 13 US LPGA Tour titles in 2004. "There were plenty of people there to cheer me on." Sorenstam, making her first appearance at the Farr since 2001, was four shots behind the leader after a 69. "I don't think the score really reflected how I played," she said. "I hit a lot of fairways. I hit a lot of greens." Lopez, playing in a US LPGA Tour event for the first time in more than a year, struggled throughout the day, finishing with an 81. Pak, trying to match Mickey Wright's tour record of five victories in one event, strung together four birdies and appeared to be on her way to a commanding lead. She made two 15-foot putts on Nos. 10 and 11 to charge out in front. But she hit her tee shot into the trees on the 12th and landed in the rough, taking a double-bogey that brought her back to the rest of the field. Still, she was pleased with the round. "It could've been better," Pak said. "The next three days is going to be fun." Rankin had an eagle on par-5 ninth despite playing without her regular clubs after an airline lost them two weeks ago. "I just tried to turn it into a positive," she said. Estill nearly grabbed a share of the lead on No. 18, but her 25-foot birdie putt just grazed the cup. Paula Creamer, playing in a group with former Farr champions Pak and Sorenstam, opened with a 67. Creamer said she just wanted to keep up with Pak during her run of birdies. "She played phenomenal that stretch," Creamer said. "She hit like a laser at the flag every time." Laura Davies, Natalie Gulbis, Diana D'Alessio, Ashli Bunch and Karen Weiss also had 67s. Meg Mallon, the 2004 tournament winner, was in a group at 68 that included A J Eathorne, Jessica Reese-Quayle and Christina Kim. The players had to contend with soggy conditions early in the day and water that filled a few bunkers after three inches of rain fell on Wednesday at Highland Meadows Golf Club. (AP)