Annika Sorenstam was pleased with her 2-under 70.
Kuehne jumps ahead of stellar field at SBS Open
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With all the standouts in this week's $1.1 million SBS Open field, leave it to a relative unknown to steal the show.
Through first round:
Going off the back side early yesterday morning, Kelli Kuehne took advantage of relatively calm conditions at the Turtle Bay Resort to shoot a 5-under 67 and finds herself alone in first, one shot clear of Jacqueline Yang (68) in the opening round of the first full-field event on the LPGA Tour.
With the help of caddie Tracy Phillips, Kuehne managed five birdies and no bogeys, finishing just in time for the tradewinds to make a grand appearance for half the field, including defending champion Paula Creamer and former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam.
Despite the blustery breezes, both golfers opened with 2-under 70s to finish in a tie for 10th as 34 golfers landed in red numbers. Sorenstam was excited about her score and believes it's a portent of things to come. Creamer was also pleased with her position.
"It was a good score in these conditions," Creamer said.
U.S. Women's Open champ Cristie Kerr was among six golfers tied for third with a 3-under 69. Former University of Hawaii golfer Cindy Rarick wasn't as fortunate. She opened with an 8-over 80 and will need a stellar round today to make the cut.
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Kelli Kuehne isn't as famous as older brother Hank, but another two rounds like yesterday's blistering 5-under 67, and she can make a name for herself.
Fresh off a fourth-place finish at Q-school to earn her exempt status for 2008, Kuehne took a one-shot lead into today's second round of the SBS Open knowing she's got a long way to go before earning her second win on the LPGA Tour and first since 1999.
"My whole objective this year is I don't want to have an expectation," Kuehne said. "I want to play freely and whatever comes, comes. It's the first round. I love the start I got off to, but it's the first round. I've got a couple more to go. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I don't want to plan or set it up. I just want to take it as it comes."
Jacqueline Yang finished her round in the morning as well to shoot a 4-under 68 before the conditions at Turtle Bay Resort deteriorated in the afternoon. A half-dozen golfers, including U.S. Open winner Cristie Kerr, were another shot back at 3-under 69 as 34 women managed to break par at the Arnold Palmer-designed course.
Defending champion Paula Creamer and former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam were tied for 10th with 11 other golfers at 2-under 70 as the leader board was as crowded as Kahuku in early morning school traffic.
Creamer and Sorenstam had hoped to go off early today, but because the pairings were reshuffled last night based on score and not by morning round one day and afternoon the next, that won't happen, meaning they'll be in the afternoon once more because of their low scores.
"I think we all expect wind here," Sorenstam said. "The key to a morning round is if it can be still for the front nine, anyway, and try to post a low score and then hang in there on the back. That's really the plan. But, you have to hit so many shots, you have to hit fairways, you have to hit greens. It's nice to have a plan, but you have to execute it."
Kelli Kuehne is looking for her second win on the LPGA tour.
With the help of caddie Tracy Phillips, Kuehne executed hers about as well as anyone. She opened 2008 with a bogey-free round that included birdies on her final three holes on the front to put her clear of this stellar field that includes eight of the top 10 moneywinners from 2007.
"I was lucky," Kuehne said. "I had a really good tee time, the second group out off the 10th hole. So I was able to take advantage of a calmer course. I hit it really well. I've had real good preparation coming into this event. And I feel really comfortable.
"I've also got Tracy Phillips, my short-game coach and caddie. He got me through it. And he was with me in 1999 when I won. I have a long history with him. That's my ace in the hole. If I follow directions, it usually goes in. I don't read my putts. He does."
It all worked well for the 30-year-old yesterday, but there are still plenty of holes left to play with many of the game's best nipping at Kuehne's spikes, including Creamer. Paired with Sorenstam and Natalie Gulbis, Creamer had some mental breakdowns that kept her from going really low.
She hit 14 greens in regulation and needed only 29 putts to finish at 2 under. Like Sorenstam, she was looking forward to playing in calmer conditions, but did enjoy the crisp pace of play.
"It's nice to get that (first round) under my belt," Creamer said. "It was a good day out there, breezy at times. It kind of slowed down in the middle. Overall, pace of play was good. We've been talking about that a lot lately. That's one of our new things.
"That kind of helps keep the momentum and not have to think a lot out there and kept it in a flow. I'm happy with the way I played. Obviously, the double on 17 was not very good from 110 yards but, you know, things happen. I think I just lost focus there. That's just part of not being in my routine of playing 18 holes everyday and finishing it up. I think (today), I'll definitely be more aware of that and being able to finishing the round."