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Golf - 03. June 2007.

Caroline Larsson Takes Two-Day Lead Into Final Round


LAKE GENEVA, Wis., June 2, 2007 – So with that experience under her bright red belt, the Swede went to work in today’s second round of the $90,000 Aurora Health Care Championship -- putting a little breathing room between herself and the field.

Larsson carded her second consecutive three-under-par score of 69 to take a three-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round at 138 (-6) on The Palmer Course at Geneva National Golf Club.

“I knew I really wanted to be under par after the first nine holes today and I wanted to have a couple of shots between me and second place at the end,” said Larsson of Danderyd, Sweden. “I learned in El Paso that I shouldn’t play safe and that I just have to go for it as much as I can.”

The former Florida State University collegian went for it today and wrapped up her round with four birdies, three bogeys and an eagle. She grabbed the outright lead on her fourth hole with a birdie from seven feet. Larsson bogeyed the fifth with a poor chip, left a birdie chance hanging on the lip of the cup on the seventh hole, then rolled in another birdie from 10 feet on the ninth hole.

“I have good course management and I already know that some of these holes aren’t birdie holes,” said Larsson, who also led after the first round. “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”

The Swede hit it “too good” on the 12th hole and flew over the green, but she stormed back with an eagle-3 on the par-five 14th hole when she holed out her 58-degree wedge from 57 yards. She added a little more cushion when she hit an 8-iron to six feet to birdie the 15th hole.

“Mentally, I was really strong today,” she said. “I feel really comfortable and I like this golf course a lot.”

Of course, so does rookie Jane Park of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and amateur Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., making her debut on the Duramed FUTURES Tour this week. Park and Choe each fired rounds of three-under-par 69 to move into a tie for second at 141 (-3).

“My irons were much sharper today and I went out there and trusted my swing,” said Park, who won the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and finished tied for 10th in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship.

A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour, Park posted four birdies and one bogey today and moved one round closer to her first professional win.

“You go to every tournament and try to win, but this is the first time I’ve actually put myself in position,” said Park, a two-time U.S. Curtis Cup Team member. “I’m not rushing anything, but I’m ready to give it my best shot.”

Choe, who is 17, recorded a bogey-free round that included three birdies and a total of 28 putts. The 2006 Rolex AJGA Junior Player of the Year missed only three greens in regulation today and lamented only about the “four or five birdies that lipped out.”

“It’s very different than junior golf,” said Choe, who made the cut in this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship – one of the LPGA’s four major championships. “Out here, everybody’s out for themselves and out to win. I need to learn a lot from these people.”

If Choe were to win this week as an amateur, she would become the first amateur champion since Kellee Booth, who won the 1999 Pacific Bell FUTURES Classic.

Choe and Park both come to the Duramed FUTURES Tour with decorated junior and amateur careers and the two have faced each other for years.

“We’ve had our share of battles and I’ve played a lot of junior golf with Jane,” said Choe. “Sunday will be a lot of fun.”

Second-year player Eunjung Yi of Murrieta, Calif., had her share of fun today when she shot the week’s low score of five-under-par 67 – bouncing back from a first-round score of 78 to move into a tie for 12th at 145 (+1). Tour sophomore Tiffany Tavee of Gilbert, Ariz., carded a round of 68 to tie with Brandi Jackson (72) of Greenville, S.C., at one-under-par 143. Jackson is a third-year player still seeking her first pro victory.

And rookie Sofie Andersson of Angelholm, Sweden recorded an even-par round of 72 today to remain in third place alone at 142 (-2). Five players are tied at even-par 144.

“The par-fives on this course are makeable birdies and you have to go for it,” said Jackson, whose eagle attempt on the par-five 14th hole lipped out for birdie. “This course is a really good, fair test of your all-around golf game.”

And that’s what Sunday’s final round will be – the final test on a demanding golf course for a handful of players seeking their first professional title.

Seventy-seven players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+7).

Sunday’s final round of the Aurora Health Care Championship will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 11:45 a.m.

For scores and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.

Weather: Mostly cloudy, becoming sunny and fair with temperatures in the high 70s with wind around 7 mph.

Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, Duramed FUTURES Tour at (262) 245-5241 and at lisa@duramedfuturestour.com.

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