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Phillips dominates first round of MWGA Jr. State Amateur

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
June 3, 2004
Those who believe the golf axiom that 'driving is for show and putting is for dough' should have seen Leigh Phillips' opening round of the 2004 Mississippi Women's Golf Association Junior Girls Amateur Championship Wednesday. Then again, they probably wouldn't have believed what they saw.
Shauna Allen and Mary Kate Byrne both had one less putt than Phillips, but the Meridian native brings a commanding 13-stroke lead over Allen and a 17-stroke lead over Byrne into today's final round of the 16-18 year-old division.
Phillips had 31 putts in the first round of play at Briarwood Country Club, but finished with a 1-under par 73. Women's par at BCC is 74.
Allen had 30 putts in shooting an 86, while Byrne also had 30 putts in recording a 90.
"I'm happy, especially with the way the weather was earlier," Phillips said. "My front nine was good. I had three birdies and two bogeys and started off with a birdie which was good.
"The only downfall on the front side was I had two three-putts which were both on the par 3s. That was frustrating because that's what I practiced all day yesterday."
After starting her day with a birdie, Phillips bogeyed Nos. 3 and 5, both par 3s. She birdied Nos. 8 and 9, both par 5s, to make the turn at 1-under.
Allen was 7-over at the turn, while Byrne was 11-over.
After a bogey on No. 10 and a birdie on No. 11, Phillips suffered her only major glitch of the day on No. 14 as she took a double-bogey 7.
"I played really well on the back side, except for No. 14," Phillips said. "Every shot on that hole went wrong. I hit a 4-iron off the tee and left myself a bad angle into the green. I hit another 4-iron and pushed it right and hit a tree and dropped down under some limbs. Then I hit the side of the cart path and then I missed a 2-foot putt… if that long."
However, Phillips responded to adversity with birdies on the next two holes to extend her lead to 11 strokes over Allen and 16 over Byrne.
"I wasn't in a very good mood after 14 and I laid into that drive on 15," said Phillips, a rising senior at Lamar School who has committed to Mississippi State.
Allen, who was playing in the older group for the first time, was only 5-over par on the final nine holes.
"It was my first time to ever play the back side, so I thought I did okay," said Allen, a rising junior at Greenville St. Joseph High School. "I had always played with the little kids and we'd quit after nine.
"I don't like the back side because it's too hilly. I'm used to the flat (of the Mississippi Delta), but I played better than what I thought I'd do on the back."
Byrne is a sophomore at Cathedral High School in Natchez. Her round's highlight came on back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14.
Obviously, with her big lead, Phillips shouldn't feel too much pressure today.
"All you've got to do is go out there and play the course," Phillips said. "And that's what I tried to do today. Just focus on every shot and play every hole the best I can and just see what happens."
In the 13-15 age group, Britany Hanna of Pontotoc holds a six-stroke lead over Florence's Shelby Sandifer heading into today's final round. Hanna needed only 16 putts as she shot a 2-over par 39, while Sandifer had a 45. In third place with a 65 is Kori Dunn.
Mary Langdon Gallagher of Greenwood needed only 18 putts to take a commanding lead in the 10-12 age division which plays a modified nine holes. The daughter of PGA Tour pro Jim Gallagher and nine-time women's state am champion Cissye Gallagher shot a 43.
In second place with a 55 is Adrian Culpepper of Madison. Hope Biggs is third at 63, Abby Tucker is in fourth with a 67 and Whitney Smith is fifth with a 72.