Richard's return sparks memories
She won the Phar-Mor in Youngstown event in 1991.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Deb Richard stepped up to the tee on the par-3, No. 9 hole at Squaw Creek Country Club Tuesday and knocked the ball about 20 feet from the pin.
She then walked up and knocked the putt in the hole.
Ten years ago, what today is No. 9, was the 18th in the Phar-Mor in Youngstown LPGA event and Richard made a similar 20-foot birdie putt to beat Jane Geddes to win the 1991 tournament championship.
This week, the tournament returns to Squaw Creek for the 2001 Giant Eagle LPGA Classic and Richard made her first practice trip around the layout Tuesday.
"It brought back some memories," she said about the par-3 hole. "They've moved the tee up a little closer, but it was still exciting to stand there and remember what had happened in 1991."
Richard said that she's always loved the Squaw Creek layout, but this year it seems to be even better than she remembered.
"The golf course is fantastic. I've never remembered it this good," she said. "The greens are so perfect you just can't wait to get on them and putt."
"It was so much fun being out there today," she said. "There are so many holes where you have to carve the ball around and it was just fun remembering all the holes."
No difference: Richard doesn't see any real difference since they reversed the nines back to their normal setup this year.
"I don't think there will be any big difference," she said. "People can say what they want about finishing on a par-3, but now with the finish on 16, 17 and 18 it should really make for an interesting finish."
The Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., resident, who has won five times on the LPGA Tour, likes the 18th finishing hole, but doesn't think that the changes made to the hole will cause the golfers any more problems than before.
"It's still a great hole and the new fairway bunkers could come into play, but as long as you keep the ball on the right side of the fairway they shouldn't be too much trouble," she said.
"It's a good finishing hole, it requires a placed tee shot and some good shot-making," she said.
When Richard won the Phar-Mor in Youngstown tournament, she posted a winning score of 9-under-par 207 and tied with Geddes.
Does she think it will take a score lower than that to win this year's tournament?
"The golf course is in such great shape and the greens are rolling so true," she said.
"If that continues through the weekend then I know that the golfers will be making a lot of birdies," she said. "In that case I feel that the winning score will be lower than 9-under this year."