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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vikki Laing lying second after the first round of the Duramed Invitational

From the Futures Tour website:

Pearson Leads After Rain-Soaked First Round Of Duramed Invitational

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 17, 2008 - Jenna Pearson of Wheaton, Ill., carded a 2-under-par 69 to take the early lead in today's first round of the inaugural $150,000 Duramed Invitational at Chateau Elan Golf Club. One stroke back at 1-under-par 70 is 2007 Tour winner Vikki Laing of Musselburgh, Scotland.

Four players posted an even-par 72, including four-time Tour winner Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., three-time Tour winner Mindy Kim of Diamond Bar, Calif., seven-time Tour winner Lori Atsedes of Ithaca, N.Y., 2008 card winner Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ontario, and 2008 Tour winner Haeji Kang of Seoul, South Korea.

Pearson is leading a 72-player tournament field chasing the coveted $21,000 top prize -- the Duramed FUTURES Tour's highest winning paycheck in its 28-year history. Monies earned at the Duramed Invitational do not affect the season money list.

Temperatures dipped into the mid-60s and light rain showers broke through cloudy skies during the morning. Red numbers for sub-par rounds were hard to come by throughout the day as rain continued in the afternoon.

Pearson took advantage of three birdies on the front nine, including an estimated 60-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole that spanned the length of the green. She opened the back nine with a birdie on No. 10, finishing her final nine holes at 1-over par as the rain continued.

"I was looking at it as a bonus week," said Pearson, who ended the regular season ranked 80th on the season money list. "It was great to start out with some birdies, but it's a day where I wish I had someone else other than myself to carry an umbrella."

It was a busy couple of weeks for Pearson leading up to the Tour's final event of the season.

She qualified for the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School at sectionals in Venice, Fla., and took a trip to watch the Illinois Girls Sectional Tournament in Carbondale, where temperatures barely reached 50 degrees.

"It made me think about how nice it is not to have to play there," said Pearson, a second-year Tour pro who attended the University of South Carolina. "I do feel really good about my game right now -- probably the best I've felt about it all year.

Playing in the same group as Pearson was Laing, who opened her round with back-to-back birdies. The 2007 Gettysburg Championship winner holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the first hole and followed with a chip-in off the fringe on her second hole.

"It felt a little warmer here than a day in Scotland," Laing said. "It was a big help having a caddie out there today. I've been working on the speed of the greens the last few weeks and I had a dead-on lie all day, leaving just a few inches."

Just like Pearson, Laing moved on to the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School at sectionals. She labored through a double bogey on No. 6, but closed out her rainy round with seven straight pars.

"It's great to have some tournament play under my belt again," Laing said. "My last round in Venice was kind of a hiccup, so I was looking forward to getting past that."

It was a relaxing week after the Tour's top players were treated to a pro-am party at the American Junior Golf Association headquarters. AJGA alumnae on the Duramed FUTURES Tour include Hurst, Kim, Jenny Suh of Fairfax, Va., and Sunny Oh of Manhattan Beach, Calif., among others.

Second-round play begins Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. off the first tee. The leading group of Pearson, Mindy Kim and Laing tees up at 12:20 p.m.

For real-time scoring and more information, visit

Leading First-round scores Friday in the Duramed FUTURES Tour's $150,000 Duramed Invitational at the 6406-yard, par 36-35 - 71 Chateau Elan Golf Club, Braselton, Ga.:

69 Jenna Pearson (Wheaton, Ill.)
70 Vikki Laing (Musselburgh, Scotland)
71 Mindy Kim (Diamond Bar, Calif.), Lori Atsedes (Ithaca, N.Y.), Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Fla.), Jessica Shepley (Oakville, Ontario), Haeji Kang (Seoul, South Korea)
72 Jenny Gleason (Clearwater, Fla.), Aimee Cho (Orlando, Fla.)