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Published: Thursday, 7/2/2009

Pressel, Diaz, Kim share top of Farr leaderboard

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Morgan Pressel shares the Farr tourney lead with Laura Diaz and Song-Hee Kim. Morgan Pressel shares the Farr tourney lead with Laura Diaz and Song-Hee Kim.
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Morgan Pressel passed Paula Creamer on the driving range at Highland Meadows yesterday morning and could see Creamer was upset.

The defending champion of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, Creamer was forced to withdraw because of a thumb injury minutes before she was scheduled to tee off.

It s very unfortunate, Pressel said. I know she didn t want to pull out. Her thumb must really be bothering her for her to pull out.

Nevertheless, she and several others spent yesterday taking advantage of Creamer s absence.

After the first round, Pressel, Laura Diaz, and Song-Hee Kim were tied for the Farr lead, all shooting 7-under par 64s. Just behind the trio are Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen at 6-under.

Creamer couldn t start yesterday after experiencing continued soreness in her left thumb, an injury that has bothered her for more than a month and also forced her out of the Wegmans LPGA tourney last weekend.

This is an event I feel a very special bond with and it s disappointing not to be able to defend my title from last year, Creamer said in a statement. She said she would visit Highland Meadows Friday.

Meanwhile, some rain from Wednesday night made the greens soft and the scores low. The cut after today s round could be below par. Eighty-six players shot under par, with all but 28 in the tourney playing at least even.

Pressel, who finished second the last time she played at Highland Meadows in 2007, had a bogey-free day. She used solid iron play to hit 16 greens in regulation, many close to the pin.

I gave myself birdie opportunities on every hole, Pressel said. You can t ask for much more than that.

Pressel played in a group with Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng, the top two ranked players in the world. She embraced the challenge.

They are great to play with, even though I hit first all day, Pressel said jokingly.

Diaz, a 34-year-old New York native, felt the first round was a breath of fresh air. She has missed the cut in six of the last seven LPGA tournaments and her best finish this year is a tie for 26th.

I ve been in a pretty good funk, Diaz said. I have just been trying to get my swing going good again. My putter happily surprised me today, and led that ball right into the hole.

After birdieing three straight holes, she capped off her round yesterday with an eagle on the 17th hole from 38 yards away.

It s just one day, Diaz said. I m definitely going to let myself enjoy that because it s been a long time. It s nice to be in the red.

Pressel and Diaz were part of the morning group, and Kim teed off in the afternoon. Kim, who has five top-10 finishes this year, used a strong short game to rise to the top. She had four consecutive birdies on the front nine and had three on the back nine.

I definitely noticed the leaders but I didn t put any additional pressure on myself to catch those leaders, Kim said through a translator.

I played here back in 2007 and didn t play particularly well that year, so I skipped this tournament last year. This year, I came to play.

Wie s 65 was her best round of the year. A hole-in-one on No. 2 propelled Pettersen s round.

Six players lurked at 5-under, with 14 players three shots back at 4-under.

The 5-under group includes top-ranked U.S. player Cristie Kerr and the LPGA money list leader, Jiyai Shin. Among the group at 4-under is top-ranked player Ochoa and McDonald s LPGA Championship winner Anna Nordqvist.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.comor 419-724-6160.



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