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Quartet tied for Lead in Mobile Bay
April 26, 2012

Two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales, 2011 European Solheim Cup Team member Caroline Hedwall, Rolex Rankings No. 61 Katie Futcher and No. 86 Lindsey Wright sit tied atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par after the first round of the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. The quartet of players each shot a 67 Thursday on the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove.

Sitting one stroke behind the leaders is a group of eight players who shot 4-under in Thursday’s first round including Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo, Stacy Lewis, and Morgan Pressel.

After firing an impressive 5-under-par 67 in the first round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Lindsey Wright finds herself in familiar territory near the top of the leaderboard.

At this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wright opened with a 5-under par 67 then followed it up with a 1-under par 71 to go into the weekend two-strokes behind Yani Tseng. Wright then faltered on the weekend and shot two consecutive 76’s to finish the tournament tied for 43rd.

Wright admitted during her post round interview on Thursday that fatigue played a large factor in her stumble down the stretch at the year’s first major.

"I got tired, mentally tired, and I haven't been in that position really for a while," said Wright whose career-best finish is runner-up at the 2009 McDonalds LPGA Championship. "I probably lost my focus a bit, which was just fatigue mentally more than physical."

With her experience at the Kraft Nabisco Championship under her belt, Wright feels confident heading into Friday’s second round.

"I can feel myself mentally each week I'm playing get back to where I was probably three or four years ago," said Wright. "And I think, too, it helps that I have a great caddy who's incredibly relaxed. I think it was mental."

On a golf course where target golf is crucial, Rolex Rankings No. 22 Caroline Hedwall couldn’t be more satisfied with an opening 5-under par 67 on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings.

"It feels like it's kind of target golf and I like that," said Hedwall. "I enjoy just hitting it; where it stops where you hit it, too, I like that and I think I did that well today. Just everything feels good, and hopefully I can play as well for the rest of the week."

A member of the winning 2011 European Solheim Cup team, Hedwall is looking to improve on a season-best tie for fifth finish at the Kia Classic. If Thursday is any indication as to how the rest of the week will shape up for Hedwall, look for her name to be atop the leaderboard on Sunday.

"I feel good about my game, and if I can play this steady, I hope I can score low for the rest of the days, too," said Hedwall.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Jennifer Rosales has not spent much time near the top of the leaderboard in recent years. So it was a little bit of a blast from the past when the 33-year-old finished tied for the first-round lead at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic after shooting a 5-under 67 on Thursday.

This is Rosales’ first trip to the United States this year and her first LPGA event of the 2012 season. Rosales, who has Category 15 conditional status after finishing 124th on the Official Money List last year, has spent most of the year living in her native Philippines. She has played in two other golf events in 2012, one in China and another in Thailand. Instead, she’s been directing her focus to other ventures.

"I'm doing scuba diving in the off season," Rosales said. "It's fun, I really love it. It's totally different from golf. That's it, that's what I've been doing back home.

Rosales has not recorded a top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour since the 2005 Mizuno Classic, where she finished second. Her previous best finish in an LPGA event came at this event two years when she recorded a T16 finish. So is there something about this golf course in Mobile that suits her game?

"Not really because last year I missed the cut, so I don't know," Rosales said. "It’s just right now everything's going well for me, so keep it up."

Katie Futcher has certainly earned attention for the quality of golf that she’s been playing this season. But Futcher’s play, which included her firing a 5-under 67 in Thursday’s first round, wasn’t the only topic of discussion in her post-round interview at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

One of the more interesting things that Futcher keeps in her golf bag is a bag of bacon that she snacks on during her round. Except that Futcher said lately she’s switched things up a bit, turning instead to another kind of processed meat - salami.

"I've tried everything on the golf course," Futcher said. "I've tried sandwiches, I've tried nuts, I've tried every kind of bar you can think of. Bacon is good for me because it has a lot of protein and a lot of fat. I've switched now to salami -- I go back and forth from salami to bacon. Right now I'm on a salami kick because it just -- you know, bacon, you can only eat so much of it for so long, so I kind of need to switch it up. Just something with some fat in it as well as some protein, and then I'll eat just a straight carbohydrate bar."

Whether the snacks were key or not, Futcher got off to a hot start in 2012 with two top-11 finishes in the first three events of the year. Things slowed down slightly for Futcher during the Tour’s West Coast swing last month but she credited a tweak in her putting stroke to her success in Thursday’s round.

"I struggled with my putting during the Kia and the Kraft and the Founders," Futcher said. "Kind of got back on track, saw my putting coach, and I’m hitting much better putts. Starting the putts on line, that's kind of the key. So that's going much better, my putting's much better. So, yeah, I mean, if I can just keep the ball in the fairway and hit the green and get my best friend in my hand, I'll be fine."

The name Mi Jung Hur might not sound familiar to a lot of LPGA fans, who originally got to know the 22-year-old by her nickname M.J.

Hur went back to using her entire first name during the offseason after what she called a disappointing 2011 season.

"I just want to start like fresh and new with my real name, not the initial," Hur said. "But everyone calls me M.J., that's fine. They should know that Mi Jung is my real name."

After withdrawing from last week’s event in Hawaii with a neck injury, Hur got her game going in Thursday’s first round at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She shot a 4-under 68 to put herself one shot off the lead in a T4.

"I played solid today, all the shots and short game and irons everything was fine with me," Hur said. "Unfortunately I made one bogey on last hole because I hit a driver to the right side and then hit a layup. But I like my round today, I like it."

Lewis might have recorded a flawless 4-under par 68 on Thursday but the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Champion only needed one word to describe her first round, "boring".

"It was actually really boring, said Lewis. "I hit a ton of fairways and a ton of greens and kind of made a couple birdies late. I don't know, it was a good day, just easy golf."

Lewis hit 11/14 fairways, 15/18 greens and recorded four birdies to find herself one stroke behind a pack of leaders at 5-under-par. Despite missing the cut at last week’s LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf, Lewis has recorded four top-20 finishes including a season-best tied for second at the ISPS Handa Australian Open.

What could be considered a solid start to the 2012 season, Lewis admitted a few plaguing swing changes has her sights set on this summer.

"I kind of haven't really been comfortable with it, trying to work on some stuff," said Lewis. "My coach came in town in the beginning of this week just trying to get things figured out and get ready -- more to get ready for the rest of the summer. It's great if I play great now, but more than anything I want to play good this summer and I think I'm on the right track."

Sun Young Yoo’s first major championship victory unfolded so quickly at the Kraft Nabisco that the South Korean admitted it took some time for the win to sink in.

"I couldn't believe it after I won a couple days, then I had lots of phone calls from Korea and I realized, oh, I won a major," said Yoo. "It was very exciting and, I mean, sometimes I still think about it, I can't believe it."

Yoo has continued her strong play on the golf course since that impressive win at the Kraft last month. After finishing in a T18 at the LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf in Hawaii last week, Yoo opened up with a 4-under 68 on Thursday at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic to put herself one shot off the lead.

"I hit the ball well and putted well," Yoo said. "I missed a couple putts, but 4-under is a good score so I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now."

Defending champion Maria Hjorth shot an opening-round, 1-under 71 and currently sits in a T32…Spaniard Azahara Munoz, who finished runner-up at last week’s LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii, shot a 3-under 69 on Thursday. Munoz has now shot even-par or better in seven of her last eight rounds.

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