Originally created 09/22/99

Coble shoots well on first day



So far so good for Augusta's Laura Coble in the Georgia Women's Golf Association Amateur Championship.

Bookend birdies on Nos. 1 and 18 at West Lake Country Club on Tuesday helped Coble fire a 2-over-par 74 to take the first-round lead in the 94-player event. The 35-year-old Coble has a one-shot in the 54-hole event that continues today and concludes on Thursday.

Coble, who plays out of the Forest Hills Golf Club, is seeking to become first Augustan to win this tournament since Mitzi Edge did it in 1977.

"You can't win a tournament the first day," Coble said. "My goal is to be in contention and have a chance to win when it comes down to the last few holes on Thursday."

In addition to her birdies on Nos. 1 and 18, Coble birdied Nos. 6 and 9. Her bogeys came on Nos. 2, 5, 7, 10, 12 and 14.

"It was a good round, but it seemed like every time I made a birdie, I'd turn around and make a bogey," Coble said. "I felt like I wasn't making any progress."

Even so, Coble did well enough to take the one-shot lead over 55-year-old Patsy Ehret of Atlanta. Ehret, the 1998 winner of the Georgia State Golf Association Senior Women's Championship, overcame three double bogeys to shoot 75.

"Three double bogeys -- that's really sad," Ehret said. "I had five birdies, so it was an up-and-down round. It was quite a sight to see. I didn't know what I was going to do."

The pressure of being the hometown favorite didn't bother Coble. Teeing off two hours later than her scheduled starting time because of the wet conditions, Coble birdied the first hole with a 15-foot putt. It was the longest of her four birdie putts.

"One of my friends says if you birdie the first hole, it's the kiss of death," Coble said. "It wasn't the case for me today. But it gave me a chuckle on the first hole when I made that putt."

As expected, the West Lake course wasn't surrendering any low scores. The course was lengthend 291 yards from the ladies tees for this event, bringing the total to 5,609 yards. The par was changed also. Normally a par 73 layout, it is par 72 for this tournament, with the 367-yard second hole, normally a par 5 for the ladies, converted to a par-4. The yardage did not change

"It's a very fair course; there are some opportunties to score, especially on the par 5s,' Coble said. "You have to batten down the hatches on the par 4s. Some of them are long."

On Tuesday, the course was playing to every inch of its yardage, thanks to Monday's rain.

"It's an extremely long 5,609 yards," Ehret said. "Because of the wetness, you're getting zero roll. It's a difficult course for the women who don't hit it long off the tee."

Because of the wet conditions, the lift, clean and place rule was in effect on Tuesday.

"That made it easier," Ehret said. "It's kind of a mental thing because you have such a good lie when you can place the ball. I had mud on my ball a couple of times and it was nice to be able to take it off."

Scores could be even higher today since the lift, clean and place rule is not expected to be in effect.

Coble and Ehret believe an over-par score for the 54 holes will win the event.

"I think four or five over will be a decent score," Coble said. "It will be close to the lead the last day."

"If you shoot 75 all three days, you'll win it," Ehret said. "I would be very satisified with that."