Golf

Wigger leads Ky. Open by six shots

NICHOLASVILLE — It's hard to please a perfectionist. Especially when the perfectionist is a golfer.

And so it is with Leah Wigger.

Wigger, a Louisville native who plays on the LPGA Tour, notched a 66 in the first round at the Kentucky Women's Open on Tuesday. Her scorecard read symmetrically: 33 on the front nine, 33 on the back.

It was hard to find fault with her round. Except Wigger took note of one irksome statistic.

"I hit pretty much every green today," Wigger said. She paused before adding, "Except one."

The one she failed to hit was the par-4 17th. The ball hit the green below the cup and spun back off the right-front, toward the water.

It hit the first cut of fringe and stopped, well before reaching the hazard. She two-putted from there for a par.

Wigger, who was an LPGA rookie in 2008, said she chose to play in the Open because of a lull in her schedule. The tour is overseas the next two weeks.

"I wanted to keep playing golf and stay fresh competitively," she said.

Wigger will enter the final round of the two-day Open with a six-shot lead over three golfers who shot even-par 72s: Laura Anderson, Katie Fraley and Lindsey Gahm.

Wigger was paired Tuesday with recent University of Kentucky graduate Mallory Blackwelder and defending Open champion Karisa Akin.

Akin, a sophomore-to-be at Middle Tennessee State, shot an 83.

Blackwelder, a Versailles native playing in her fourth professional event since graduating from UK in May, shot a 76 in the latest of a series of frustrating rounds, she said.

Blackwelder opened her professional career with two stops on the CN Canadian Women's Tour sandwiched around the Texas Women's Open. Her best finish was in Texas, where she tied for seventh.

"It's not too bad so far. I've made a check in all three tournaments, so that's good," Blackwelder said.

She blamed her high score Tuesday on simply not hitting the ball well.

That's better, she said, than a few recent rounds in which she has hit well but failed to convert.

"A few weeks ago in Canada, I hit 30 of 36 greens in a two-day tournament," Blackwelder said. "And my only birdie in the whole tournament was a chip-in.

"Those were a little more frustrating. I hit 14 greens today. I just have to figure out how to score," Blackwelder said.

That wasn't a problem Tuesday for Wigger, who will have to start Wednesday's round as she chases her first Kentucky Open title.

If she needs motivation, the 17th hole can provide it. Wigger was asked whether she would hit that green in the final round.

"Oh yeah," she said. "I'll hit it."

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