The LPGA golfer impressed herself with her longest drive.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- The silence surrounding the first tee box at Squaw Creek Country Club bothered the professional golfers.
There was too much of it.
In order to excite fans in the professional long-drive contest Tuesday, the golfers joked with one another, made fun of one another and demanded a lighter atmosphere.
Take this conversation, for example.
"Are they ready for us out there?" asked Michelle McGann, the first competitor, speaking of officials who would measure driving distances.
Jean Zedlitz responded, "They moved in."
The gallery chuckled.
Three-time winner: Officials didn't have to move in much for Zedlitz, who won the two-round competition with a 301-yard drive to become a three-time winner.
"You could tell we were kind of cutting it up with each other," said Zedlitz, a Pleasanton, Calif., resident. "We just enjoy coming out and doing this -- even with the heat."
Zedlitz turned up the heat in the first round when she and five other golfers each received six drives, with the top three advancing to the final round.
Joining Zedlitz in the final round was Annette DeLuca (295 yards) and Smriti Mehra (291), but DeLuca and Mehra couldn't overcome the leader in their final attempts.
"Annette had a 295-yarder, so I thought she could pop it into the 300 range," Zedlitz said of the final round.
McGann (279), Sherri Turner (276) and Jean Bartholomew also competed.
Her prize: "To have something like this happen is great. It kind of gets me going," said Zedlitz, who received a check for $2,000. "I've played well at Avalon [Lakes Golf Course], so I'm hoping it will carry over to Squaw Creek."
With as much fun as the golfers appeared to be having, Zedlitz admitted she still was feeling nervous.
"I didn't think I could get it 290, let alone 301," Zedlitz said. "I just didn't think I had a 301 in me."
So, how did she do it?
"If you have good tempo, everything goes in the right place. Then, you can hit it a little bit farther," she said.
Of her winning drive, Zedlitz said, "I caught it good down the left side; that was definitely the firmer side of the fairway. I think I got a pretty good bounce off that bunker, and that helped me a lot."
Zedlitz arrived at the course Tuesday and had yet to play Squaw Creek, but she's heard of the tight fairways.
"I understand that I might not be hitting my driver a whole lot," she said.