Walker shoots 66 for Legends lead


POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2009

Martha Nause had two choices. Practice her golf at an indoor facility in St. Paul, Minn., or shake off the rust in the inaugural Kinoshita Pearl Classic, the third stop on the LPGA's Legends Tour.

Nause opted for the warmth and winds of Kapolei Golf Course and—considering she hadn't played tournament golf in 15 months—a 1-over 73 wasn't bad at all.

“;I was a late entry and I just couldn't turn this down,”; Nause, the men's and women's golf coach at Macalester College, said. “;I could stay home and practice indoors with the blizzard outside, or come here, even if I wasn't ready to play. The winds were a little tricky but not too bad.”;

Nause was tied for 14th going into today's final round, seven strokes behind Colleen Walker, whose 66 was her best in a Legends Tour event. One bad swing on 16 cost Rosie Jones a share of the lead, a bogey 4 the only blemish of her 5-under 67 round.

Only six of the 35 golfers broke par, with seven at even par, including former University of Hawaii golfer Cindy Rarick. Pat Bradley (71) was the only World Golf Hall of Famer entered with a sub-par round; Amy Alcott was at 74 and Sandra Haynie at 78.

Walker capped her opening 18 with her seventh birdie, a 22-footer she rolled in from above the pin.

“;I wasn't as concerned about making it as I was cozying it up next to the hole,”; said Walker, who last played in Hawaii at the 1996 Cup Noodles at the Kapolei course. “;It happened to fall in.

“;It's fun to get back into the hunt, have this opportunity. You relish the competition. This tour is more laid-back. You have players who have been there, done that, but still want the competition. If people come out to watch, they'll see we can still hit the golf ball, can still make the shots.”;

Jones made plenty of shots, with four birdies on the front nine and another at 11. She was 5 under until 16, when “;I had one bad swing and I missed the green,”; she said. I left some (other) birdies out there, too.

“;I grew up in New Mexico and the wind suits my game. I haven't played in a lot of competition lately, but I love the opportunity to play. And how can you not like a day like today? And playing in Hawaii?”;

Jones, a 10-time winner on the LPGA tour, hadn't played in Hawaii since being paired with Michelle Wie in an event in 2004. The 15-year-old finished second, Jones seventh.

The Legends Tour is for players 45 and over. It began in 2000 and with limited stops.

This event was put on the schedule three months ago, but was only confirmed in September.

“;It's unfortunate that, when we reach a certain age, that you don't think you can play the regular tour, our bodies can't withstand that sort of stress,”; Jones said. “;But we still have the desire to be competitive, and the Legends Tour gives us that opportunity. I feel lucky to have the sponsors we have.”;

Among the prizes are strands of pearls from the sponsoring Kinoshita Pearl Company. Cindy Figg-Courier, last year's leading money-winner on the Legends Tour, was given a strand for a hole-in-one during Friday's Pro-Am.

The players had no complaints about the course.

“;It was absolutely beautiful out there,”; Kathryn Young-Robyn, a teaching pro at Coronado (Calif.) Golf Club, said after her 70. “;I'm really impressed with the conditions of the greens.”;

Playing in her third Legends event of the season, Young-Robyn said she had several missed birdie opportunities early. She made up for it with three birdies over the final 10 holes.

Her putting game got going on the par-5 No. 9 “;when I was about a foot away from the hole and I pretended it was for par.”;

Young-Robyn was in the second group to go out, paired with Yoshiko Ito. Her 70 held up until mid-afternoon when Walker and Jones finished.

“;This is a good, strong field,”; Young-Robyn said. “;The (LPGA) Tour has changed since we all started. I think the players used to be closer. It used to be like a sorority and it's fantastic to see everyone again.”;

The golfers tee off today beginning at 9 a.m. Admission is free.