Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Rosales takes lead in LPGA event

REUTERS , WILMINGTON, DELAWARE

Jennifer Rosales shot a bogey-free five-under-par 66 to take a one shot lead after the first round of the LPGA Championship, the second women's major of the season, on Thursday.

The 25-year-old from the Philippines holds a slim advantage over South Korea's Gloria Park, Japan's Chiharu Yamaguchi and Britain's Karen Stupples, while defending champion and world number one Annika Sorenstam was in another group of three on 68.

Rosales won her first LPGA tournament in Atlanta in April, a breakthrough that has turned her into a national heroine back home in Manila.

However, she was not committing to thoughts of adding a first major to her resume after her five-birdie effort at the Dupont Country Club.

"It's only the first day so it doesn't really matter that I'm in the lead," she said.

"But it was a pretty good start and it was a really smooth round. I hit a lot of fairways and made some decent putts."

Despite her realistic assessment, she did acknowledge that the round was certain to arouse more attention in the Philippines.

After her win, she received a congratulatory telephone call from the President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and a parade was held in her honor.

"Everything is crazy back home," continued Rosales, who lives in Orange County in Southern California.

"But they are pretty mad with me because I haven't been back since the win. I have to do what I have to do. Hopefully, they're going to have another parade when I do make it."

Rosales' longest birdie putt was from 15 feet at the 12th, although her shot of the day was a chip-in to save par from 20-feet at the short fifth.

Stupples, who also scored her first win on Tour this season, in Tucson in March, would have matched the 66 if she had not dropped a shot at the last, while Gloria Park birdied her final hole, the par five ninth.

confident

Florida-based Stupples admits her win has made her more confident and more relaxed.

"In the past, I would try too hard," she said.

"But now if I hit a poor shot I don't get nearly so mad with myself. It's much less stressful."

The pick of her five birdies was a chip-in from 40-feet at the seventh, while she actually had to get up and down for the bogey at the par four 18th.

Sorenstam, who started at the tenth, birdied the final two holes. She hit a five iron to four feet at the 192-yard eighth and was on the green in two at the long ninth.

"It's always sweet to finish with a birdie," the Swede said.

"And I actually think that 68 is one of my better starts here. I'm very happy. I hit the ball well and putted really well with a few lip-outs."

One of the players tied for fifth with Sorenstam is South Korea's Grace Park, who remains on course for the Grand Slam after her victory at the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco in March.

The 25-year-old fired six birdies and three bogeys but will be disappointed to have dropped shots on the final two holes to fall out of a tie for the lead.

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