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Michaela Finn closes with pair of birdies to take first-round lead at Four Winds Invitational

SOUTH BEND, IN. — As anyone who has played golf at South Bend Country Club will tell you, the quicker you put bad holes behind you, the better off you are going to be at round’s end.

Thursday in the first round of the $200,000 Four Winds Invitational at the 107-year-old George O’Neil masterpiece on South Chain Lake, 27-year-old Swedish golfer Michaela Finn overcame her only bogey of the day at the 388-yard 16th hole with birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 to shoot an afternoon, five-under 67.

“It was fun today to go out and hit it as solid as I have all year and to make some putts, too,” said the former Kent State Flash, who was a stroke ahead of a dozen golfers in the 54-hole event.

“I haven’t had the patience I’m supposed to have,” added Finn, who has made $16,387 and has just one top-10 finish (a tie for ninth at the IOA Championship in late March) in 11 previous events. “The more pressure you put on yourself, the harder it is to go out there and play golf.”

Finn made six birdies in her round on a day when low scores were attainable at the 6,414-yard course which has been softened by recent rains. A sun shower ended the first round which started 45 minutes late because of morning fog, and more rain was expected Friday during the second round after which the 144-player field will be cut to the low 60 (and ties) for Saturday’s final 18 holes.

A dozen golfers were one stroke behind Finn. Americans Lakareber Abe, Katherine Smith, Gigi Stoll, Cydney Clanton and Laura Wrenn were joined at 68 by France’s Agathe Laisne, Australia’s Cassie Porter, Canada’s Alena Sharp, South Korea’s KyungMi Kim, China’s Miranda Wange, Italy’s Angelica Moresco and the Philippines’ Dottie Ardina.

Former Notre Dame golfer Becca Huffer, Australia’s Hira Naveed and California’s Amy Lee were another stroke back after rounds of 69. Among the 13 golfers who shot 70 was Australia’s Gabriela Ruffels, who has two victories and $126,283 in earnings. Another 17 golfers shot one-under 71s and six others matched par 72 for a total of 52 out of 144 players in the field at par or better.

“I was happy with the start,” said the 33-year-old Huffer, whose morning round included five birdies, three of them at par-5 fifth, seventh and 12th holes. She just missed another birdie at the 475-yard, par-5 18th but birdied the difficult 422-yard 14th hole with a testy downhill putt. Huffer is currently 13th on the money list with $48,701.



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