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Published: Friday, 8/15/2003

Burton finds comfort in return to the Farr

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The aches and pains are still there. After multiple shoulder surgeries, three jaw surgeries, rib and wrist injuries, and recent reconstructive surgery on her ankle, Brandie Burton is still in one piece and still earning her keep on the LPGA Tour.

Burton shot an opening round 1-under 70 at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic yesterday, putting her within five shots of the lead. She won the event at Highland Meadows 10 years ago.

“You always get a little more comfortable at places where you have played well before, and that is how I feel coming back here,” Burton said.

“It has been a while since I won here - it's been 10 years now - but I stay with a great family here and I enjoy playing this golf course. Those thing make you comfortable, and you always have a little more confidence in how you'll play when you are someplace that is comfortable.”

Burton, who has won two majors and has five tournament wins in her career, has not won since 1998. She won three of her five career titles in 1993, including that year's Farr. Since then, the injuries have taken a toll on her.

“I'm still not there yet - physically,” Burton said. “I just had my left ankle reconstructed and it is still not doing real well. I am kind of at that point now, wondering how long I am going to be able to play, because physically, I am just not quite where I want to be, and where I need to be.

“Hopefully, if I can have an off-season where I can get my body back in shape without having to deal with another surgery, then getting back to a point where I can meet my own expectations - that is a possibility. Right now, we're just going day-to-day and hoping that we can continue to play.”

The San Bernardino, Calif., native, who now makes her home in Laughlin, Nev., is 44th on the LPGA money list after winning $170,036 in 16 events this year. Burton said the litany of injuries has made it virtually impossible for her to return to her form from the early 1990s when she was one of the top five money winners on the tour for two consecutive years.

“In the back of your head, you sometimes wonder why all of this happens, but you just kind of deal with the cards you are dealt,” Burton said. “At least I am still able to play and compete, and when that isn't the case any more, I guess I'll have to go figure out what else I can do. But right now, I don't know the answer to that. I don't know what I would do.”

Burton, who is 20th on the LPGA career money list with $3,766,482, said for right now, putting up an under-par number is good enough.

“I played a very steady first round - three birdies and two bogeys,” she said. “I had a lot of chances for birdies, I hit the ball really solidly, but had the ball lip out on three or four putts. But overall, it was a very good, solid round.”



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