Four previous champions here vying for another crown
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Four previous champions of LPGA golf tournaments in the Valley are in contention for another title.
Two others may be thinking of getting an early jump on next week's Weetabix British Open.
Dorothy Delasin, last year's winner of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic at Howland's Avalon Lakes, and Tammie Green, the winner in 1994 and 1997 at Avalon, shot 3-under 69s Friday in the opening round. They are two strokes behind the leaders heading into the second round.
Jackie Gallagher-Smith, the 33-year-old winner of the 1999 Giant Eagle event, is three strokes back after a 2-under 70. Deb Richard, the 1991 winner of the Phar-Mor Tournament at Squaw Creek, finished at 71.
Struggled: The other previous champions struggled Friday. Michelle McGann, the winner of the 1995 and 1996 Youngstown-Warren LPGA Classic at Avalon Lakes, was at 2-over 74.
Betsy King, the 1992 Phar-Mor winner at Squaw Creek, finished at 3-over 75.
"It's a longer course than we've played in the past," said Gallagher-Smith, comparing the two courses. "I know I hit a lot of 5-irons today."
"The greens are very tricky," the Indiana native said. "I thought I read a couple putts correctly and they did the opposite of what I thought."
Misjudged: Gallagher-Smith, who bogeyed her final hole (the par-3 No. 9), said she misjudged her read.
"I just didn't play as much break on that," she said. "Plus, it wasn't a very good chip. I hung in there, I played well except for that last shot. This one [No. 9] is a little tricky."
That missed shot kept her from joining a dozen other golfers who are two strokes back.
"I think the par 3s are really good par 3s," Gallagher-Smith said. "The key is being in the fairway.
"We're used to having challenging holes," she said. "If it's a shorter hole, they're going to tuck [the pin], they're going to make it a little trickier. It's just a matter of being in the right place. You want to be putting up to most of these holes."
Not a factor: The 31-year-old McGann said course conditions weren't a factor in her bad day.
"I didn't hit it [well] enough to think about any conditions," McGann said. "I hit it very poorly today. I finally hit a good shot on that last hole, but I didn't stay with it."
McGann said the switch from Avalon Lakes was a factor.
"The greens are different," she said. "We're not used to playing this course. It's only the second or third time around for everyone and that makes it very difficult.
Accuracy: "If you don't put the ball in the right spot or you miss it off the green in certain spots, you've got no chance to get it up and down," McGann said. "That's probably one of the main reasons why there's no 7- or 8-under [scores].
"It didn't play very easy, but I definitely didn't hit it as [well] as I should have."
Because the Tour hasn't played here since 1992, McGann found the greens to be a challenge.
"A lot of chips I hit today and a lot of putts I hit I thought would be a lot quicker than they were," McGann said. "And they weren't. Those are things you learn over the years from playing courses so many times."