Tucker Moves Out in Front At El Paso Golf Classic
05.05.2008 - Golf
EL PASO, Texas, May 3, 2008 – Kristina Tucker of Stockholm, Sweden, broke a first-day tie and posted a round of 68 (-4) to take a slim lead during second-round play today at the El Paso Golf Classic.
Tucker shared a six-under-par 66 first-round tie for the lead she held with Leah Wigger of Louisville, Ky., and put on a putting exhibition in today's second round to sit at 134 (-10) through 36 holes. Wigger trails by one stroke at 133 (-9).
"I only had one three-putt today," said Tucker, who carded 29 putts today. "It was on the fringe, but it still got me mad."
A member of the LPGA Tour in 2007, Tucker posted two birdies in her first three holes highlighted by a 25-foot birdie putt on her second hole, but Wigger pulled even with an eagle on the sixth hole.
Trying to close in on her first professional win, the fifth-year pro is tempering her expectations after nearly tasting victory at the Hunters Oak Golf Classic at Queenstown, Md., in 2007.
"I really want to win, but golf is such an up-and-down game," said Tucker, a former standout at Duke University. "Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard. I was hitting fairways and greens all day and whenever you're playing well, it makes it that much easier."
For Wigger, who already has one professional title to her credit after taking home top honors at the AMERICAN SYSTEMS Invitational in Daytona Beach last month, it's all about remaining within striking distance.
Wigger nearly capitalized on a double-eagle on the par-5 sixth hole, pounding a 5-wood through the front left bunker that rolled within six inches of the cup. She made the ensuing tap-in for an eagle and offset Tucker's birdies on No. 2 and 3.
"I had a couple good birdie opportunities that didn't fall early," Wigger said. "I was guiding the ball a little bit too much and I want to stay loose and be aggressive tomorrow.
With Wigger's hometown of Louisville a central hub of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, the former Virginia Cavalier was anxiously awaiting results from the famed horse race.
As for tracking results on the golf course rather than the racetrack, Wigger had a bit of a confession to make.
"I'm a scoreboard watcher," she said. "I didn't think I was, but I am."
Tucker and Wigger will be joined in the final group with a noon tee-time by rising rookie M.J. Hur (67) of Seoul, South Korea, who is tied for third at 139 (-5) with Haeji Kang (70) of Seoul, South Korea, and Amanda McCurdy (70) of Little Rock, Ark.
Winner of the Louisiana Pelican Classic two tournaments ago, Hur quietly recorded the field's lowest round of the day alongside Jessica Shepley (67) of Oakville, Ontario, and Whitney Wade of Glasgow, Ky., and is in striking position once again heading into the final round. Despite the success, Hur is still seeking an ideal comfort level on the links.
"It just didn't feel right when I was hitting irons today," said the rookie. "Every shot I hit with a wedge or a 52-degree club, it wasn't very clean and not very close to the pin."
Defending champion Mo Martin (71) of Altadena, Calif., and 2007 El Paso Golf Classic runner-up Caroline Larsson (68) of Stockholm, Sweden, continued to make their push in hopes of moving up the leaderboard. Martin dropped into a tie for 11th at 142 (-2), while Larsson moved into a tie for ninth at 141 (-3).
Larsson caught fire on the back nine stemming from an eagle after making the turn on the par-4 10th hole. The second-year Duramed FUTURES Tour pro already has two top-10 finishes this year and has her sights set on bigger things. The 2007 finish in El Paso was the Swede's career-best performance.
"I just like this golf course and I felt really good on the back nine," said Larsson, who played collegiately at Florida State. "I did think about last year on my last hole today and hit it in the bunker. Luckily, I almost made a birdie and was able to save par."
Martin found red numbers again today with her second consecutive round at 1-under-par (71) and was overall pleased with her play as she sits just outside the top-10 spots heading into Sunday's final round.
"Things were going well for a while and then I got a little ahead of myself," said Martin, a former collegian at UCLA. "Yesterday I got caught up in the past and today I got caught up in the future."
Afternoon winds that tampered with scores on Friday in first-round play were nowhere to be found in today's second round. Scoring conditions were nearly ideal.
A total of 74 players made the 36-hole cut at 149 (+5).
Sunday's final round will begin at 8 a.m. off the first tee with the leaders taking their first swing at noon.
For real-time scoring and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.
Weather: Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and winds blowing SE at 10-20 mph