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3 share first-round lead in Michelob Classic

SHARE 3 share first-round lead in Michelob Classic

EUREKA, Mo. — Pat Hurst, Kristi Albers and Rachel Hetherington shot 5-under par 67s Friday to share the first-round lead in the LPGA's Michelob Light Classic.

Annika Sorenstam, who won the event the last three years and four of the six since it began, shot an even-par 72. Her apparent home-field advantage is misleading because the tourney moved this year to Fox Run Golf Club, a par-72, 6,452-yard course that is much longer than the previous site at Forest Hills Country Club.

Not surprisingly, long hitters were faring well. Hurst ranks eighth in driving distance. Sally Dee, the tour's third-longest hitter, was a stroke back at 4-under. Also at 4-under were Rosie Jones and Lorie Kane. Jones was at 6-under before a double-bogey on the final hole.

But Hurst said it was her short game, not the driver, that saved the day.

"I made a lot of 20-footers today," she said.

Hurst, fifth on the money list with $644,353, has won once this year and finished second four times, including last week when she lost in a playoff to 19-year-old rookie Dorothy Delasin in a playoff at the Giant Eagle Classic. Delasin shot an even-par 72 Friday.

Albers has won just once in her 14-year career. She three-putted on just one hole and needed only one putt on 10 holes.

Hetherington, a fourth-year player from Australia, has been inconsistent this year. She's finished in the top 10 three times and earned $218,560 (29th on the tour), but missed the cut five times.

"Mentally, some weeks I focus better than others," she said. "Usually, the tougher the course, the better I play."

Not that Fox Run was playing that tough — about one-third of the players were at even-par or better.

Hurst credited recent rain for keeping scores low.

"When the ball is hitting the greens, it's not moving that much," Hurst said.

If Sorenstam rallies to win, she'll grab an obscure piece of history, joining Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Laura Davies as the only professional golfers to win the same tournament in four consecutive years.

Sorenstam has already won five times this year. So has Karrie Webb, the tour's leading money winner, who also shot a 72.

Sorenstam struck the ball well, but struggled on the greens, missing several putts of 12 feet or less down the stretch.

"I really didn't get off to the start I wanted to," she said. "It was tough to make a putt out there today."

The winner earns $120,000.