A solid round ended in some frustration for defending champion Mi Hyun Kim when an already unpredictable wind kicked up on her final hole yesterday at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Kim, who began her first round at the 10th hole, carded a bogey at No. 9 to finish with a 3-under-par 68. Kim had birdied five holes with just one bogey through the first 17 holes and was tied for fourth place.
But then the wind, which was gusty and constantly changing directions, wreaked havoc on her tee shot, approach, chip and even her two putts on the final hole. She finished tied for fourth.
"My caddy and me were a little bit confused with the wind," Kim said. "Sometimes the wind was left to right and then it would switch from right to left. Even my putts were harder to read because the wind took the break a little bit. It was a little tough with the wind."
Kim recorded birdies at holes No. 6 and 8, which are both par-3s. But the South Korean was then clearly frustrated with the wicked wind. She shook her head when her chip sailed far to the right of the pin and then grimaced when her putt for par drifted left.
"For the first nine the weather was good. After nine holes the wind was very gusty," Kim said. "The last hole, my tee shot the wind gusted and took my ball way right. I was a little bit confused. But 3-under is good."
Kim, who defeated Natalie Gulbis in a sudden death playoff at the Farr last summer, already has one victory this season. She carded a season-low 65 at Highland Meadows last year and said she was pleased with her round considering the windy conditions.
Kim, who is 5-foot-1, recorded her first two victories since 2002 last season capped by her dramatic win here. The 30-year-old has been on the LPGA Tour since 1999 and she has eight victories. She is currently ranked sixth on the 2007 money list ($729,574).
"I'm happy with my score," Kim said. "It's okay."
PRESSEL IMPRESSIVE: Morgan Pressel maintained the torrid start to her sophomore season by opening with a 3-under 68.
Pressel, who got her first LPGA Tour win earlier this season, recorded five birdies to position herself in fourth place going into the second round.
"I played decently today. It was nothing spectacular," Pressel said. "I scrapped it around a little bit out there. I made a couple good putts.
"I just need to hit a few more solid shots coming into the weekend. I scrapped a few around a little poorly, especially the last few holes. But that happens. That's golf."
Pressel has five top-10 finishes this season, including a tie for 10th last week at the U.S. Women's Open. The 19-year-old is currently ranked eighth on the money list with $659,267.
"You can't win the tournament on the first day," Pressel said. "But you can certainly lose it. But I played okay. I'm right in there."
ROUGH START: Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis both posted more bogeys than birdies and finished the first round at 4-over par.
Creamer, 20, who came into the tournament ranked fifth on the money list, carded four bogeys and one double bogey. Creamer has missed the cut just once this year and has finished in the top 11 in eight of 11 events this season. She opened the season with a victory at the SBC Open.
Gulbis, 24, who finished second here last year, struggled down the stretch with two bogeys and a double bogey over her last nine holes. Gulbis carded a six-under-par 65 in her final round last year, but opened with a 75 yesterday.
LOPEZ MARCHES ON:
Legend Nancy Lopez was in good spirits after her opening round, despite struggling to a seven-over-par 78.
Lopez, a 50-year-old hall of famer, posted bogeys on five of her first nine holes, but was happy with her swing.
"I would like to make some birdies and keep those bad scores out of my game," Lopez said. "But I enjoyed it. I missed some shots a little bit, but it was much better than it had been in awhile."
Lopez also said she enjoys the gallery in Toledo.
"This is one of my favorite places to play," Lopez said. "The course is in great shape. The community is so supportive; it just makes you want to come back."
HEAVY LOAD: At six months pregnant, Heather Lunke is playing in her last tournament before she goes on maternity leave. Lunke, who shot a 75, said throughout her pregnancy she has felt more tired than normal so hasn't been able to practice much.
Recently, she has noticed a difference in her play.
"Hitting the ball shorter really has affected me," Lunke said. "A lot of players still play pretty well when they're pregnant. But I'm already a short hitter so losing distance has really hurt my ability to compete. I've noticed day by day I'm losing more and more so I think it's time to call it quits."
PAK II: Another Pak has potential to make her mark on the Farr Classic.
Jin Young Pak shot a four-under-par 67 and is in third place. Pak, a tour rookie, has missed most of the season and finished only one tournament this year. Yesterday's round was her first under par this season.
"This was my first tournament after two months, so I can't believe I played so good," Pak said.
Pak, from South Korea, called her round "lucky" and said she got some good bounces. She had four birdies on the back nine. She said she had no expectations coming in.
"I didn't think, OK, I have to play well this tournament," Pak said. "I just thought, I will try my best."
BIRDIE BINGE: Not many were more excited than Chuck Osswald when LPGA pro Carri Wood opened her round with four straight birdies. Osswald, a local caddie from Inverness Club who is an Evans Scholar at Ohio State University, is carrying Wood's bag this week.
"I was pretty excited," he said. "She was playing phenomenal golf. The morning group didn't have the wind we did, so she had to play even better to get a good score."
Wood dropped one shot coming in, but her 3-under 68 tied for best round among the afternoon wave.
"It was a good start and it meant I was able to get in good position right off the bat with the wind coming up the way it did," Wood said.
She chipped in from about 25 feet off the back of the green at No. 1 for her first birdie, then twice knocked 6-iron shots to within three feet and made a 20-foot putt to complete her birdie run.
This is the third straight year Osswald has been caddie for Wood in the Farr Classic and he was on her bag in 2005 when she had a hole in one and recorded a career-best 12th-place finish.
"Chuck is a good kid and I have a lot of respect for the
caddie programs in this area and how well the kids are trained," Wood said.