McALLEN, Texas, April 28, 2007 – Emily Bastel might have grabbed a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the $75,000 Jalapeno Duramed FUTURES Golf Classic, but the number that grabbed every player’s attention was the sizzling eight-under-par 64 posted by Tour veteran Kim Augusta.
“Eight under?” said Bastel, after her own round of four-under-par 68 and a two-day total of 138 (-6). “I’m not familiar with a number like that.”
But that was the number that stirred the pot today at Palm View Golf Course in this third annual event. Augusta turned in her scorecard around 1:40 p.m. CST, nearly 20 minutes before the final group teed off. And with more than a four-hour start on the leaders, all Augusta had to do was wait. All anybody else could do was chase.
“I’ve been striking the ball well and I missed only eight greens in 54 holes last week in Lafayette, but the putts just weren’t falling,” said Augusta, of Rumford, R.I., who moved into a tie for third with Sofie Andersson (70) of Angelholm, Sweden at 140 (-4). “I was due to have a good putting round, but I didn’t expect it to be eight under.”
That magic number beat her previous career-low round of 66 and was the result of a bogey-free morning that included six birdies and a holed-out eagle-2 from 139 yards on the par-4 fourth hole. Augusta’s second-round rally brought her back into the hunt after a lackluster first-round score of four-over-par 76. After the first round, she was tied for 78th.
“She had like three lip-outs from the fairway,” joked Julie Wells, of Wilsonville, Ore., who played in Augusta’s pairing.
“It was fun to watch,” added Katie Allison of Mahwah, N.J., also in Augusta’s group.
And for everybody else in the afternoon, it was the number to chase.
But Bastel and first-round leader Danah Ford of Indianapolis had too much experience to lose focus on what they had to do to stay in front. Ford’s putter saved her on a day when her ball striking didn’t feel as crisp as it had in Friday’s first round. She hit 13 greens in regulation and all but three fairways, using 28 putts in her round.
“I told myself to be patient, patient, patient,” said Ford, a former collegian at Indiana University, who carded a one-under-par 71 to drop back into second place at 139 (-5). “There were more gusts today and there was more guessing [with club selection].”
But Ford must have guessed right. She birdied three of her last five holes, rolling in birdie putts from seven feet on the 14th, 18 feet on the 16th and three feet on the last hole to draw within a shot of Bastel, whom she faced as an amateur in Big Ten Conference tournaments.
“I told Emily on the range earlier this week that I’d see her in the last tee time on Sunday,” laughed Ford. “And I will.”
A rookie out of the University of California-Berkeley, Andersson wrestled with a balky putter today. She hit 14 greens in regulation, but carded 32 putts. Still, the Swede admitted she was motivated by the way her game is progressing this year and her current position in this week’s field.
“When you see you are one or two shots off, it makes you want to make more birdies,” said Andersson. “I’m happy, confident and ready to go on Sunday.”
Even Augusta’s travel partner on Tour, Jana Peterkova of the Czech Republic, got hot when she made the nine-hole turn and saw Augusta’s 64 at the top of the leaderboard.
“I was inspired and excited about her score today and said, ‘I’m going to chase her,’” said Peterkova, who carded a five-under-par 67 and joined a group of five other players tied for fifth at 141 (-3).
But first, the field will have to chase Bastel, whose bogey-free, four-birdie round was the model of consistency today. Her longest putt was seven feet. She rolled in 28 putts, found all but one fairway and hit 14 greens in regulation. Most of all, she showed the same calm that enabled her to finish sixth on the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s 2004 money list with nine top-10 finishes.
“The thing I’ve done well for the last couple of days is I’ve tried to capitalize when I had birdie opportunities and to be conservative when I’ve had to be,” said Bastel of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, who played on the LPGA Tour for the last two seasons.
Bastel whetted her winning appetite earlier this season when she was tied for the lead after the second round in Tampa. And the former Michigan State University standout now knows what she has to do to close out that long-awaited first professional title.
“I’ve been in this situation before and I’ll draw on that,” she said. “Golf’s a pretty fickle game and I’ve been through a lot. I know I can’t look too far ahead or too far behind. All I can control is what I can do.”
Seventy-five players made the 36-hole cut at 149 (+5).
Sunday’s final round will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 11:36 a.m.
For scores and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.
Weather: Partly cloudy and humid with a high temperature of 90 degrees with wind around 15 mph, gusting up to 20 mph.
Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, Duramed FUTURES Tour at (956) 664-2031 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo Getty Images