Green tied for McDonald's lead Okamoto bolts to top with 2nd-round 65


ROCKLAND, Del. -- Tammie Green hit her opening drive "as well as I can hit it" to set up a birdie, and the first-round record-setter did not fall out of the lead the rest of the day at the McDonald's Championship yesterday.

Green, who had shot a course-record 64 Thursday, came back with a par 71 and a 36-hole total of 135 at the Du Pont Country Club in suburban Wilmington.

Ayako Okamoto, a top-10 finisher in four of her past five events, bolted out of the pack with the best round of the day, a 6-under-par 65, and tied Green at 135.

Michelle McGann, who is beginning to play well in her third tour season, had a career-low 66 and joined Pat Bradley (67) and Sally Little (69) at 136.

There was a tie at 137 among Carolyn Hill (68), helped by a 4-under-par 31 on the front nine, Cathy Gerring (68) and Laura Davies (69).

The cut fell at 3-over 145, and 74 will play the final two rounds. Among those who missed the cut were Baltimorean Tina Barrett (72), Hollis Stacy and Jan Stephenson, all at 146, and Juli Inkster, 147.

Another clear, hot, breezy day helped the soggy grounds dry, and the scores reflected this to a degree, as the subpar rounds were down from 41 to 28.

"Today was kind of a test," Green said. "I had never shot 64 before, and I didn't know how I'd react. As it was, I came back to get the most out of the round."

Green had three par-saving putts in extending her bogey-free total to 25 holes, then three-putted the eighth green, missing from a foot when a spike mark knocked her ball off line.

"You're supposed to knock it through [the spike mark], but I didn't," she said.

"In a situation like that, I get mad at myself, but I know I can't have a major blowup and stay in contention."

Greene came back with a par 35 on the front.

Okamoto had one of her better putting rounds (she had 24 putts all day) in climbing into a share of the lead. She saved par four times on the front, birdied the ninth, then had four birdies in five holes on the back.

"When you save pars, you gain some confidence and have a good feeling," she said. "It helped me on the rest of the round."

A year ago, Okamoto was in contention until falling back with a double bogey on the 70th hole.

Bradley, seeking her second win of the season, had five birdies and a bogey for her 67, a three-putt at No. 4 marring the round. "Frustrating," she said, "because I had been putting so well."

For Little, it marked the first time she had been in contention since winning the du Maurier Classic in 1988, her third major among 15 titles in a 20-year career.

"I broke my wrist in Canada last year [the du Maurier in Kitchener, Ontario], started back in January, and have been playing myself into shape," she said.

Little, who has had nine operations, has hit well the previous six tournaments, but did not score well.

"It used to be you could get away with a 74 or 75, but now, the way the scoring goes, it is so competitive, if you can't putt, you can't survive," she said.

For her round, she had three birdies and a bogey.

"Bad shots don't bother me anymore," she said. "I'm a lot more relaxed than I used to be. I'm having a good time."

Little has had to put her swing back together without the help of her father, a guiding force in her life, who died five years ago.

"He was my teacher and my friend," she said. "He got me started in golf, and I would have been better off if I had paid more attention. I miss him; I find myself talking to him, expecting him to answer, and he's what is driving me now."

McGann, 21, has had three top-10 finishes in recent weeks after two years that she referred to as "a learning experience." The $65,000 she has earned this season is some $20,000 more than she earned in her first two years combined.

One of the longest hitters on tour, McGann started with a bogey. "I thought, 'Oh, no,' but came right back firing at the pins and making some putts," she said. "I have a friend from home [Riviera Beach, Fla.] caddying for me, and that helps me stay relaxed."

NOTES: Barrett was at 3-over playing No. 18, then hit her second shot in a bunker, came out to 12 feet and missed the putt. "I knew I needed it [par], but just hit a bad second shot," she said. For the 2 rounds, she drove it well, but short-game woes led to six bogeys . . . . Mary Ann McDevitt Klinchock, who made the cut at 142, is the wife of Joe Klinchock, former TPC-Avenel assistant professional and winner of the 1988 Maryland Open . . . . Amy Alcott made a 10-foot putt on her final hole to get to 3-over.

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