Pressel chases 59, settles for 65 in Founders Cup

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PHOENIX (AP) - Morgan Pressel’s bid for history ended Thursday in a tangled desert bush. She settled for the second spot on the crowded leaderboard in the JTBC Founders Cup.

Golf’s magic number of 59 in range after she played the first 11 holes in 9 under, Pressel bogeyed the next two holes and closed with five pars for a 7-under 65.

“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 ended up a stroke behind Mirim Lee at Desert Ridge.

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,” Pressel said.

She was 6 under after six holes, birdieing the first four and making 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.

Annika Sorenstam shot the only 59 in LPGA Tour history in the 2001 Standard Register Ping at nearby Moon Valley. Ai Miyazato holds the record in the 4-year-old Founders Cup, shooting a 63 in the first round last year.

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.

“I definitely feel like I have the ability to win again,” Pressel said.

Lee also started on No. 10 and nearly matched Pressel’s start, playing her opening nine in 6-under 30. She had three birdies and a bogey on the front side for a 64.

“Everything was good,” said Lee, making her third LPGA Tour start.

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