Originally created 07/14/01

Klein leads Michelob Light Classic



EUREKA, Mo. -- Fresh from a weeklong vacation at a Rhode Island beach house, Emilee Klein shot a course-record 8-under 64 Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the Michelob Light Classic.

"I really feel refreshed," Klein said. "I've been working so hard on my game this year, but you play so many in a row and you just get mentally tired. Right now I feel so good."

Jennifer Hubbard, a tour rookie who was born in St. Louis, opened with a 67 on the Fox Run Golf Club course, and four-time champion Annika Sorenstam topped a four-player group at 68.

"Now, it's only two more rounds. The less rounds you play, the better each round has to be. Especially when you tee off and see someone at 8 under," said Sorenstam, the winner in 1995 and 1997-99 at Forest Hills Country Club.

Kris Tschetter, Sherri Turner and Denise Killeen also opened with 68s. Australian star Karrie Webb had a 70, and defending champion Lorie Kane shot a 71.

Klein has made some swing changes in an effort to regain the form that carried her to two victories in 1996.

"When I had my great year, I had so much confidence that it just kept falling over," Klein said. "That's what's so important - you're out there and you know. I'm out there over a 3-wood and I know I'm going to hit it close."

She has played in 19 of the 21 LPGA Tour events so far this year, missing only the Electrolux USA Championship in May and last week's Jamie Farr Kroger Classic.

"Physically, you could play every week. And I've done it," Klein said. "But mentally, you can't do it. With as much work as I've put into the game, sometimes you need a little break. And that break brings everything back."

Her best finish so far this year is a tie for fifth in the Rochester International.

"After Rochester, I should have taken a week off. That's when I got tired," Klein said.

Klein birdied her opening hole - the 10th - and holed a pitching wedge shot from 90 yards for eagle on the par-5 13th. She added three straight birdies, parred the next eight holes, and birdied Nos. 16 and 17 for the best opening round of her career.

"The nice thing was, I really felt confident starting today," Klein said. "I played very aggressive, because I knew how good I was hitting the ball."

Hubbard, 2 under after nine holes, moved to 6 under with four consecutive birdies to start the back nine. A poor drive on No. 17 led to her only bogey.

"I made a couple of birdies that I didn't expect to and missed a couple of short ones I should have made," Hubbard said. "This is the most birdies I think I've ever had in a row, so that's exciting."

Tschetter, returning to form after hip surgery last June, also eagled No. 13 after hitting a 3-wood approach to 5 feet.

"It was definitely scoreable," Tschetter said. "The greens were soft and if you hit it well, you could score well."

The top five players after 36 holes not otherwise exempt for the Women's British Open will earn spots in the Aug. 2-5 tournament at Sunningdale. To be eligible, the players were required to enter the British Open by July 3 and designate the tournament as a qualifier.