HOWARD — It was a familiar name back in the driver’s seat as Linda Neer shot a low gross 76 to take first in the Knox County Women’s Open, held at the Apple Valley Golf Course for the first time, on Monday.
Things started out well for the nine-time winner, as she sank a difficult putt to birdie the first hole.
“Well, that definitely helps,” said Neer, whose putting game remained strong throughout the day. “The greens were rolling real nice, today. I made several putts on the front. No. 1 was the first putt and it was a long putt. That really helped get my momentum going.”
Neer survived a tough back nine, shooting a splendid 39, after taking a two-stroke lead on the front nine with a 37.
“I just kept playing along and hitting some shots,” said Neer who was hurt last year. “I had a few struggles. I had a couple of bogeys.”
She sank another tough putt on 10 for a birdie and then, bogeyed the 11th hole, escaping the pond.
“Here, No. 11 is a struggle,” said Neer. “That’s where everybody really struggled. Actually I got a bogey. I didn’t have any trouble except I three-putted. That was my three-putt of the day.”
Dana Stulka, who spends much time playing the Apple Valley course and shot a 40 on the front nine, wound up with an eight on No. 11 to total a 46 on the back part of the course.
“I usually never have trouble on that hole,” said Stulka, who was sinking huge putts all day. “For some reason I tried to play it a little safer and didn’t get it as far as I usually do and I got in the water twice. If it wasn’t for that, I was playing great today.”
Sherry Dupler, two-time defending champion, got through 11 with a par to got within two shots of the lead. She managed a 39 on the front nine after double-bogeying the very first hole. Her difficulties were encountered on the greens.