Kane back on top at Takefuji Classic
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAIKOLOA, Hawai'i With Lorie Kane, Annika Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew finding success again in Hawai'i, the LPGA Takefuji Classic officially moved down the Kona coast yesterday to suddenly simple Waikoloa Beach.
Defending champion Lorie Kane sank a birdie on the 13th hole during the Takefuji Classic yesterday.
Waikoloa welcomed yesterday's opening round with benign breeze and a fascinating canvas of blue (ocean), green (grass), black (lava) and white (snow-capped Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). It was defenseless and the LPGA, in its first tournament of the season, went on the offensive with 42 players in the 60s.
Kane, the defending champion from Canada, seized the first day with a birdie on her last hole for 7-under-par 63. She is a shot ahead of Sorenstam, Matthew, Liselotte Neumann and Mi Hyun Kim a rainbow coalition that covers Sweden, Scotland and South Korea. Michelle Redman is the first American, at 65. Hall of Famer Betsy King is among seven tied for seventh and and former University of Hawai'i golfer Cindy Flom is in the midst of many at 67.
Sorenstam, who finished second in this tournament both previous years, is coming off one of the greatest LPGA seasons ever. Neumann, the only golfer in the top five who was not among the Top 10 money winners in 2001, is coming off the "worst" season of an extremely successful career. Matthew made the last Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open her first LPGA victory a year ago and Kim was the 1999 Rookie of the Year.
But from the moment Kane birdied her first four holes yesterday, it was obvious she hadn't missed a beat since throwing a course-record 66 at Kona Country Club in the final round last year. After going 2 under with putts within five feet, she chipped in on her third hole (No. 12), then drained another five-footer.
"Annika looked at me and said, 'Are you just going to have 3s on your card?' " Kane said with a grin. "I said, 'You can too. Jump on board.' "
A three-putt bogey on the next hole was Kane's only hiccup. She had four more birdies on the front nine, hitting within a foot her final hole.
Sorenstam won eight tournaments and all three major performance awards last year. But even she couldn't keep up with Kane yesterday. The pair fired a best-ball 60 one worse than Sorenstam's record round last year. That magical round popped into Kane's head after her fourth birdie.
"I was thinking, can I birdie every one today?" Kane recalled. "Playing with Annika I was reminded about the day she shot 59 and how she talked about the Swedish junior program, how they always teach you to go for 18 birdies because that's the perfect round.
"But honestly, I was just trying to get into a rhythm. We had a long layoff and I have worked hard on my game."
Matthew's 64 included a double bogey at No. 12 where she "blocked my tee shot into the lava, never to be seen again." She was still able to smile because she birdied five of her first eight holes and rallied with birdies on three of her last six. She hit three approach shots to a foot and her longest birdie putt was 15 feet. Even with the double bogey and a few missed eight-footers, Matthew's start was a shot better than last year at Cup Noodles, where she led wire-to-wire.
After the brutal winds of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Matthew was somewhat stunned.
"If it had been like it was yesterday, you could have shot 75 and been quite pleased," she said. "It was nearly unplayable."
Yesterday, it was nearly perfect.
SHORT PUTTS: It took less than three hours for Waikoloa Beach to get its first Takefuji hole-in-one. Charlotta Sorenstam aced the 156-yard fourth hole using a 7-iron. ... Karrie Webb, who won the inaugural LPGA Takefuji Classic in 2000, is home in Australia this week where she leads the Women's Australian Open after the first round. ... Former University of Hawai'i-Hilo golfer Clint Begay is caddying for Dorothy Delasin. Clint's brother, Notah, plays on the PGA Tour. ... Anne Marie Palli withdrew after nine holes yesterday with an illness. ... The third hole (488-yard par-5) played easiest yesterday, at 4.687. The ninth (383-yard par-4) was most difficult, at 4.344.
TODAY'S TEE TIMES
7:20 a.m.Stephanie Keever, Angie Rizzo, Lora Fairclough. 7:30Jung Lee, Jenny Park-Choi, Karen Davies.
7:40Maggie Will, Laurie Rinker-Graham, Caroline Hall. 7:50Pearl Sinn, Fiona Pike, Mayumi Nakajima.
8Mitzi Edge, Natalie Gulbis, Namika Omata. 8:10Shiho Katano, *Michelle Wie, Jamie Hullett.
8:20Gloria Park, Donna Andrews, Yu Ping Lin. 8:30Helen Alfredsson, Cristie Kerr , Kasumi Fujii.
8:40Nancy Scranton, Michele Redman, Chieko Amanuma. 8:50Mi Hyun Kim, Hiromi Kobayashi, Laura Diaz.
9Lorie Kane, Annika Sorenstam, Akiko Fukushima.
11:50Jackie Gallagher-Smith, Grace Park, Emilee Klein. NoonKellee Booth, Chris Johnson, Denise Killeen.
12:10Kristal Parker-Manzo, Michelle Estill, Sherri Turner. 12:20Dina Ammaccapane, Dorothy Delasin, A.J. Eathorne. 12:30Marisa Baena, Mhairi McKay, Amy Fruhwirth. 12:40Jane Egan, Hilary Homeyer, Angela Stanford.
12:50Joanne Morley, Catherine Cartwright, Joan Pitcock. 1Caroline Blaylock, Beth Bauer, Suzy Green.
1:10Nicole Jeray, Amy Read, Jennifer Rosales. 1:20Stefania Croce, Nancy Harvey, Patricia Baxter-Johnson.
1:30Sun Lee, Diane Irvin, Dale Eggeling.
7:20 a.m.Nicole Dalkas, Beth Bader, Giulia Sergas. 7:30Michelle Bell, Alison Nicholas,Anna Acker-Macosko.
7:40Laurie Brower, Suzanne Strudwick, Sally Dee. 7:50Jen Hanna, Anne Marie Palli, Susie Parry.
8Candie Kung, Annette DeLuca, Diana D'Alessio. 8:10Lisa Kiggens, *Sally Soranaka, Vicki Fergon.
8:20Jenny Lidback, Tina Fischer, Silvia Cavalleri. 8:30Tina Barrett, Jean Bartholomew, Moira Dunn.
8:40Tracy Hanson, Kris Tschetter, Carin Koch. 8:50Michelle McGann, Kathryn Marshall, Sherri Steinhauer.
9Heather Bowie, Kate Golden, Leslie Spalding.
11:50Becky Iverson, Marnie McGuire, Karen Weiss. NoonJanice Moodie, Hee-Won Han, Heather Daly-Donofrio.
12:10Jeong Jang, Catriona Matthew, Charlotta Sorenstam. 12:20Jill McGill, Betsy King, Juli Inkster.
12:30Audra Burks, Liselotte Neumann, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman. 12:40Cindy Schreyer, Ashli Bunch, Tonya Gill.
12:50Kim Saiki, Sara Sanders, Kris Lindstrom. 1Miriam Nagl, Allison Finney, Dodie Mazzuca.
1:10Karen Stupples, Jeanne-Marie Busuttil, Cindy Flom. 1:20Ara Koh, Elizabeth Bowman, Vickie Odegard.
1:30Siew-Ai Lim, Luciana Bemvenuti, Tina Tombs.