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Phatlum and Icher tied for first-round lead in Brazil
May 5, 2012

Pornanong Phatlum and Karine Icher are tied for the first-round lead at the HSBC Brasil Cup 2012 after shooting a pair of 7-under 66s on Saturday. Phatlum and Icher both recorded eight bogeys and one birdie on the Itanhanga Golf Club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They lead by one shot over American Katie Futcher heading into Sunday’s final round.

Phatlum and Icher both didn’t hesitate when asked what the key was to their solid first round scores on Saturday.

“My putting was good,” Icher said. “At the beginning, the green was hard to read and slow too. I had many opportunities at the beginning and I just made one birdie on No. 2 and then par, par, par, par. I was close to the hole but then I made birdies on 8 and 9 and the machine was on. It was a good round, a good sensation. I love that course. It’s just flat and enjoyable so it was cool.”

Icher, who finished third at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic last week, said that a key to her success so far this season was a change she made in the offseason. Icher worked to increase her driving distance and so far, it’s been working. Still, she said that it was her wedge play and putting that helped the most on the Itanhanga course on Saturday.

Pornanong echoed those sentiments by saying it was her approach shots and her putting that made the difference, although it took some time for her to get used to the slower greens. So what is her thought process heading into tomorrow’s final round?

“I think I just have to play and focus on my game,” Pornanong said. “I just need to have fun tomorrow.”

Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen sits two shots back of the leaders after the first day of the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2012. But Pettersen felt that she could have put herself in even better position heading into Sunday’s final round.

“It was disappointing not to get to 7-under,” said Pettersen. “Before I got to the back nine, I didn’t really see anyone’s scores. I thought I was doing pretty good until I saw there were a lot of other birdies out there. It’s definitely out there. The weather is going to be like this tomorrow and the greens are really soft. It’s like throwing darts.”

Pettersen had five birdies on her first nine holes but had a few up and downs on the back nine. She made two bogeys and two birdies en route to shooting 68. Still, she wasn’t complaining about finishing at 5-under and knows that she will have an opportunity to capture her first title of the 2012 season on Sunday.

“I think I have to make the putts that are more obvious,” Pettersen said. “I missed four or five putts inside 8-feet and so to still shoot 5-under, the rest of the game is pretty good.

Saturday marked the first competitive round of golf for Angela Park in over a year-and-a-half. So the 2007 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year winner acknowledged that she wasn’t quite sure what to expect from her golf game.

“I think everyone asks me what are your expectations and honestly I didn’t have any coming in,” Park said. “I could have shot in the 90s or 70; I didn’t have any expectations at all. Overall I just had a lot of fun. That’s hard to believe when you’re 3-over that a pro would be like, ‘Oh I had so much fun.’ But it was. It made me really look back and realize how much I missed it. So it was a great day actually.”

Park, a Brazil native, opened up the two-round event with a 3-over-par 76 but the biggest thing for her was finding the positive in her round, having taken such a long layoff. Park only started working on getting back into golf 2-3 months ago and she’s set a two-year plan for herself in trying to return to the LPGA Tour.

“There are some shots I’ll hit and I’ll be like oh my gosh, what was that?” Park said. “And then some shots it will be like that’s the old me. So at least there are some positives in there and it was not all negative. I think it’s just a process. When I first started back after a year and a half, I was hacking it. I mean, absolutely hacking it. My coach was like you need some work. I knew that but I’ve seen improvement in 2-3 months so I’m very hopeful.”

The low Brazilian after one round of play was Victoria Alimonda, who shot a 2-over 75. Alimonda is currently a member of the Symetra Tour…Defending champion Mariajo Uribe is tied for 17th after shooting even-par 73 on Saturday.

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