FALMOUTH – The weather cooperated for the opening round of the Harris Golf Charity Classic Saturday and several in the field, notably Barb Mucha of Orlando, Fla., took advantage of receptive and excellently groomed greens to shoot low scores
Mucha, who tied for fifth in last year’s inaugural Legends Tournament at Falmouth, made seven birdies, five on the back nine, to finish with a 5-under 67 for a one-shot lead over Rosie Jones of Atlanta and Lori Kane, also of Orlando.
Mucha had two bogeys and two birdies on the front side to turn in even par.
The conditions were in marked contrast to the tourney’s pro-ams when heavy rain and lightning shortened Thursday’s event while Friday’s was played in steady rain.
The players were allowed to lift, clean and place in their own fairways because of the wet conditions.
“They did a spectacular job in getting the course in this condition,” said Lori Atsedes of Phoenix, who posted the early low round with a 3-under 69, good for third place.
“After Friday’s pro-am, I couldn’t see the 18th green when I left because it was raining so hard. The crew outdid themselves.”
Mucha, who won the Wendy’s Challenge on the Legends Tour last season, couldn’t remember the last time she made seven birdies.
“I’d have to think about that,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I had five birdies on the back nine either.”
Mucha said she didn’t start out hitting well.
“I told myself not to worry about it. Just play the game,” she said.
And play she did.
“I made a lot of 12- to 15-footers for birdies. I also made a few 5-footers for pars like on 18.”
Mucha made a 10-foot downhill putt for birdie on 17 to reach 5-under and saved par on 18 with a 5-footer after leaving her first putt short.
Mucha said she didn’t get in her usual practice time before a tournament.
“I only played five holes in Thursday’s pro-am and five holes in a practice round on Friday. Maybe that’s the key, don’t practice. But I still felt prepared and I like the golf course. I’ve really been playing well the last six months. Even when I’m not hitting it solid, I feel I can still score and that’s a nice feeling,” she said.
Jones, who was tied for the first-round lead a year ago with a 70, bogeyed 18 to fall out of first place.
Her second shot on 18 was left of the green on the grassy upslope of the bunker. She chipped long to the back fringe and left her downhill putt a foot short.
At 2-under 70 were Alicia Dibos of Old Greenwich, Conn., and Sherri Steinhauer of Madison, Wis. At 1-under 71 were Marilyn Lovander of Gainesville, Fla., Jane Crafter of Phoenix and Cindy Rarick of Tucson, Ariz.
Defending champion Sherri Turner of Phoenix opened with a 73.
The final 18 is set for Sunday with the winner collecting $25,000.
NOTE: Many in the field played with heavy hearts after learning of the death of Jan Stephenson’s fiance, John Flora, on Friday. Flora was on his way to caddy for Stephenson when he suffered a heart attack. He was 58. Dina Ammaccapane took Stephenson’s place in the tournament.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: