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Green feels close to home



Published: Wed, July 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



VIENNA -- Tammie Green likes being here. She feels comfortable. She feels welcome. She feels something special.

In a way, the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic is like a second home for the Somerset native, a two-time winner of this tournament.

So it is only logical to assume that last year's runner-up finish, her best during the 2001 season, was no coincidence.

"I've really enjoyed playing here in Youngstown," said Green, winner in 1997 and '94. "All along I've been able to have family and friends come up to watch."

Everyone was certainly watching her play the final hole in the final round last year. She went to the 18th needing a birdie to tie Dorothy Delasin and force a playoff.

"For some reason I don't seem to drive the ball well on this 18th hole," said Green, 42, as she stood on the 18th green Tuesday.

"I didn't drive it well on the 54th hole here last year," she said. "I put it in a bad position to go at the pin and I left it out here just short."

What it left was a 60-foot chip to tie Delasin. With all of her fans looking on, willing her on, Green nearly pulled off the dramatic.

"I really feel like I have the fan support," she said. "Last year, they were rooting that ball to go in. I think it probably wouldn't have gotten as close as it did without that fan support. They were all thinking it to go in, and that ball kept rolling and rolling and rolling close to the hole."

It slid just past, allowing Delasin to defend her title.

"Anytime you have a chance to win a golf tournament, that's exciting stuff," Green said. "I felt like I put myself in position last year. I shot 68. I had no regrets."

Green was paired in the final round last year with Se Ri Pak, who took a two-stroke lead into Sunday. Green was prepared for a duel with Pak.

"I felt like if I could beat Se Ri, then I could win the tournament. That wasn't the case," Green said. "We didn't realize until the 14th hole that Dorothy was having the great round she was having."

Getting it together

Green comes to this year's LPGA Classic in a positive frame of mind. She has been working with a new teacher and her confidence is steadily growing.

"I really feel like I'm on the right track. It's starting to click. I'm starting to feel much more comfortable on the golf course," Green said. "I played well from tee to green last week. It's just a matter of rolling that putt in."

Green tied for 44th in last week's Jamie Farr Kroger Classic. Her best finish this season is a tie for 23rd on March 21-24 in the Welch's/Circle K Championship.

"With those vibes [from the fans], and with me starting to hit the ball a lot better, I should have a good week this week," Green said.

Green feels comfortable with how she sets up on Squaw Creek's layout.

"If you drive the ball well here, it sets you up to hit a good shot below the pin," Green said.

"The greens are really what it's all about," she added. "They're small, and if you get above them you're going to have a tricky, speedy putt going at it. It's just a good test of golf."

Slightly more relaxed

One year after she nearly sank the 60-foot chip to tie Delasin, Green teamed with the two-time defending champ and an area celebrity Tuesday to win the Butler Wick Shootout.

"We get to needle each other and root for each other," Green said of Delasin.

Still, Green knows she may have to contend with the 21-year-old Delasin once again, beginning Friday. As for Green, don't count her out just yet.

"Who knows?" she said. "A good, solid tournament for me is a plus. If I happen to really get it going and win the tournament, I'd be ecstatic."

So would her fans.

XBrian Richesson is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at richesson@vindy.com.




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