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GOLF / DINAH SHORE TOURNAMENT : It's Not Rough for Green, Who Leads by 2

March 25, 1995|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RANCHO MIRAGE — Here's what makes Tammie Green happy: riding her horses back home in Ohio and playing well in a major tournament, hitting iron shots that end up with the ball lying in the shadow of the flagstick.

You don't see anybody named Fairway leading the Nabisco Dinah Shore.

It's Green, who came up with a two-under-par 70 Friday at Mission Hills and rode off with a two-shot lead at the midway point of the first major of the year.

The winds came up in the afternoon and so did the scores, but Green was fortunate to have finished her round early. That left her time to add up her total, which came to 141, three under par. Kelly Robbins and Lauri Merten are tied for second at 143.

Green dropped a stroke when she bogeyed the 18th after knocking a wedge over the green and missing a 15-footer for par. But she wasn't about to complain, not after having been able to shoot 71 in Thursday's blustery wind and rain.

To Green, it felt as if she was playing golf in a blender.

"I was just happy to survive it," she said.

There were only three golfers who shot in the 60s in the first round and five who did it Friday, when 25 golfers shot at least par and 21 shot 80 or worse. The cut was at 153, a hefty nine over par.

Laura Davies, whose 69 moved her within three shots of the lead, said the weather factor has kept anyone from running away with the field.

"It's evened everybody out," she said.

The three first-round leaders took off heading the wrong way. Muffin Spencer-Devlin shot 79, Nanci Bowen and Penny Hammel 76.

Maybe the best score after 36 holes is Sandra Palmer's one-over par 145, four shots off the lead. Palmer is 54.

Davies had three birdies on the front, but bogeyed the 13th when she three-putted. Davies was not too upset with the bogey.

"I doubled it yesterday, so that's not bad," she said.

In the meantime, Robbins came up with the round of the day, even if was sort of unusual. She began her round bogey, eagle, birdie, birdie and finished with a 67.

She chipped in twice, but she also hit two trees, drove underneath more trees on two other occasions and spent enough time under the branches to join the forestry service.

If she'd had any doubts, though, Robbins was pretty sure it was her day when she sank a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 15.

"It just kept rolling very soft, right down to the hole," she said.

Then she was convinced when she lobbed a wedge into the hole from 60 feet for a birdie on the par-three 17th.

"You always hope you earn them," Robbins said. "I had the breaks falling for me today. I'd love to see them more often."

Green wouldn't mind seeing them over the weekend. Maybe bagging a few breaks would make up for the ones she didn't get at the U.S. Open last year, when she got to the 72nd hole needing a birdie to tie Patty Sheehan and missed it.

"I guess it just wasn't my time to win it," Green said.

Green finished third in last year's Dinah Shore and second to Julie Inkster in 1989. Maybe it will be her time Sunday.

In any event, she is geared toward winning a major and adding it to her total of four victories in nine years on the LPGA tour.

"I guess I must think about (winning majors) more," she said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for this golf course and this tournament.

"I just haven't had the edge. I want to play well here, but I've found if you want something too bad, that can hurt you."

To protect her peace of mind, Green likes to retreat back to her home in Somerset, Ohio, and ride her horses. She found out by accident that riding used to put her back into alignment, but she rides for different reasons now.

"Peace of mind," she said.

And if she wins her major this week? That might be a Green in regulation.

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