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Baena's rebound year gets big bounce with 69


Marisa Baena has looked sharp at the McDonald's LPGA Championship, although she almost didn't make it to this season after a dismal 2004 in which her best finish was a tie for 17th.

"Last year," the 28-year-old native of Colombia said, "I was thinking, 'Why am I here? I don't want to be here.' Then I thought, 'I don't want to be home. I want to be playing out there.' ... It's not like one day I just said, 'Oh, I'm going to play great now.' It took a lot of hard work."

That vigor and a new coach have allowed Baena to nearly double her earnings from last year. She is positioned for her best finish in a major after yesterday's 69, which has her tied for fourth.

Besides Annika Sorenstam, the only players who bettered Baena's 69 were four who carded 68s. Moira Dunn, Nicole Perrot and a pair of South Koreans, Il Mi Chung and Young Kim.

For the second straight day, Bulle Rock surrendered four eagles, the most notable being a hole-in-one by Gloria Park on No. 3. She hit last in her group and used a 7-iron, the only time all day she stole attention from playing partners Sorenstam and Natalie Gulbis.

Hello, Neumann

Liselotte Neumann continued to enjoy her return to the area, as the winner of the 1988 U.S. Open at the Baltimore Country Club is 3-under after a 1-under-par 71.

Perry Hall native Tina Barrett wobbled in with bogeys on two of her last three holes and a 75 that left her at 4-over, but at least she isn't going home, like Se Ri Pak.

Only the 10-year playing requirement, which she'll reach in 2007, is keeping Pak out of the LPGA and World Golf halls of fame. After she reached the required points with a victory at the 2004 Michelob Ultra Open, the 27-year-old South Korean and four-time major champion has rarely been a factor.

She followed Thursday's 75 with a 78 marred by four straight bogeys on the back nine.

Karrie Webb, who completed the eligibility requirements for the Halls of Fame when she completed the first round, followed a 74 with a 75 that left her at 5-over, on the good side of the cut.

Nobody made a bigger move up the leader board than Dawn Coe-Jones, who followed Thursday's 79 with a 70 that allowed her to just make the cut.

Help from all over

Pro tournaments rely on volunteers for everything from chauffeuring players to toting scoreboards to emptying trash. More than two-thirds of the 1,200 at Bulle Rock are from Maryland, but some have come from as far as California and Florida.

"We have a lot of people in leadership positions who have done it before," said Laura Healey, the director of volunteers. "They're here to teach people. It's a great combination of some of the experience from folks coming down here and the enthusiasm of the new people."

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