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9 birdies put Park in control

By wire services
Published October 8, 2004

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - Grace Park had four straight birdies on the back nine to finish 6-under 66 and put her in a tie for the lead with Kim Saiki and Silvia Cavalleri after Thursday's opening round of the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship.

Park was 4 under after six holes in the LPGA's final full-field event of the year. She was even sharper later in the round, using strong approach shots for the birdie run that started on No.12.

When Park gave back a stroke on 17, she recovered with a slithery downhill 4-footer for birdie on the closing dogleg.

"I made a couple of mental errors that cost me a few strokes but then came back strong," Park said. "I finished with the birdie, so I'm pleased."

Saiki got her first tour win at the Wegmans Rochester tournament in June and showed she was ready to contend again, chipping in for eagle on the par-5 16th at Mount Vintage Plantation.

Cavalleri needs a strong finish to keep her exempt status for next year. She also eagled down the stretch.

Michelle Estill, Becky Morgan and Joanne Morley were one stroke behind the leaders.

LPGA QUALIFYING: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome finished with birdie for 1-over 73 at the Venice event. She is fourth at 2-over 218. Second-round co-leader Hong Mei Yang retained the lead after shooting even-par 72. The Chinese player is 5-under 211.

PGA: Harrison Frazar shot bogey-free 64 to take his place among a crowded group at the top of the leaderboard with 8 under at the Michelin Championship at Las Vegas.

Seven players shared the lead on a day when perfect playing conditions and a lack of wind made the three courses used in the tournament easy targets.

Two of those, Danny Ellis and Jason Bohn, shot 63, but their scores were on the par-71 TPC Canyons course while the others played the par-72 TPC Summerlin and Bear's Best layouts. Also tied were Scott Verplank, Kent Jones, Steve Lowery and Billy Mayfair.

Of the 144 players in the field, 120 broke par and 42 were within three shots of the lead.

"It was kind of like playing in a vacuum," Verplank said. "If you execute good, you're going to get good results."

Frazar was one of those who executed well, shooting 32 on both sides while avoiding bogeys. He reached the par-4 15th with a driver and made a 40-footer for eagle, then followed it with birdie on the next hole, a par-5 to get to 8 under.

EUROPEAN PGA: Graeme McDowell matched a course record with 10-under 62 on the Old Course to take the first-round lead in the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland. U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, European Ryder Cup player David Howell and Peter Lonard shot 7-under 65 at Kingsbarns, one of the three courses being used in the event. James Kingston matched that score at Carnoustie. The top two players in the world rankings, No.1 Vijay Singh and No.2 Ernie Els, shot 68, as did European Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie.

CHRYSLER CHAMPIONSHIP: Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is among the latest additions to the field. He is joined by Stephen Ames, Brent Geiberger and Kent Jones. The event will be held Oct.25-31 on the Copperhead Course at the Westin Innisbrook Golf Resort.

BRITISH OPEN: The U.S. qualifying event next year will be held in Summit, N.J., to make it more convenient for American golfers on the PGA Tour. The June 27 qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club will come a day after the Buick Classic at Harrison, N.Y. The 2005 British Open will be July 14-17 at St. Andrews.

[Last modified October 8, 2004, 00:16:12]


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