Pressel chases 59, settles for 65 in Founders Cup

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 2:31 am •  Published: March 21, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) — Morgan Pressel had a befitting start at Wildfire Golf Club.

She was 6 under after six holes, then 9 under through 11.

Golf's magic number of 59 — accomplished only on the LPGA Tour by Annika Sorenstam in 2001 at nearby Moon Valley — was in range and word spread quickly Thursday at the JTBC Founders Cup.

"Wow. Go Morgan," friend Natalie Gulbis tweeted.

"I don't know if I was necessarily thinking 59, but I probably just got a little bit excited, because I had never been that many under par in that short of a span," Pressel said. "I just got a little bit quick and came back to earth."

She did, bogeying the next two holes and closing with five pars for a 7-under 65 that left her a stroke behind first-round leader Mirim Lee.

After birdieing Nos. 1 and 2 — her 10th and 11th holes — to reach 9 under, Pressel pulled her drive left on the par-4 third. Her ball lodged at the base of a short bush, with the bulk of the branches between the right-hander and the ball. There were burrowing animal holes near the ball, but they didn't interfere with a possible swing or stance.

"I could have hit it left-handed and there were a couple of burrowing animal holes around," Pressel said. "I brought them (rules officials) over to ask, but I didn't honestly think that I was going to get relief and I don't think that I deserved it."

Pressel took an unplayable lie and missed the green to the right, chipped to 7 feet and made the putt to save bogey. She also dropped a stroke on the par-3 fourth, missing a 15-footer after hitting another iron to the right.

"It wasn't the finish that I would have hoped for, but it gives me a little bit of confidence knowing how many birdies I can make and I'm capable of," she said.

Pressel birdied the first four holes and made a 50-footer for eagle on the par-5 15th. She also birdied the par-3 17th and made the turn in 7-under 29.

"I don't know that I've ever gotten off to that hot of a start," Pressel said.

A tour regular since she was 17, the 25-year-old Pressel won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco to become the youngest women's major champion. She also won the 2008 Kapalua LPGA.

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