The 20-year-old is not used to the attention she is receiving from the galleries.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Dorothy Delasin isn't accustomed to playing the role of defending champion.
But that's exactly the role she filled Friday in the first round of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic. The 20-year-old put herself in contention with a 3-under-par 69, two strokes off the lead of Marnie McGuire, Se Ri Pak and Maggie Will.
"It was different," Delasin said of her role. "I didn't want to put pressure on myself. I just wanted to go out there and play my game, which I did. I just hope I can keep that up."
Rookie of the Year: Delasin went into the 2000 tournament at Avalon Lakes Golf Course as a virtual unknown. When she left, her life had changed.
The South San Francisco, Calif., resident out-dueled veteran Pat Hurst in a sudden-death playoff for her first victory and the $150,000 champion's check. Delasin went on to capture the tour's Rookie of the Year honors.
One year later, Delasin returned to a tournament that changed venues.
"I'm just going to play it by ear," Delasin laughed, when asked how she will approach the remainder of the tournament. "It's a different course and a different feeling."
New to Delasin was the reaction she received from the galleries.
"A lot more people are like, 'She's the defending champ.' I don't get that at other tournaments," Delasin said. "It's great to have the attention."
Delasin, coming off a tie for 18th last week at the Big Apple Classic in New Rochelle, N.Y., capped her round with a birdie at the par-3 ninth hole. It was one of four birdies she posted against one bogey.
"I was hitting the ball pretty solid and I putted all right," Delasin said. "I'm happy with my game, and I have to keep up the momentum."
Tough course: To do so, Delasin must stay strong on a course that she described as tough.
"The greens are going to get firmer as the days go," she said. "The greens are fast right now."
In her quest to defend her only title, Delasin is being helped by her caddie and friend, Clint Begay, brother of PGA Tour member Notah Begay.
"He keeps me calm out there, and I'm very lucky to have him on my bag," said Delasin, who won the 2000 tournament with her father, Arsenio, as her caddie.
Delasin overcame a six-shot deficit after the first round last year. She shot 71 and trailed leaders Helen Alfredsson and Pak.