Pressing less, Morgan Pressel fires 68

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Worrying less about her Solheim status, Morgan Pressel gets exactly what she needs, a 68 in the first round of the LPGA Championship.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome played together Friday at the LPGA Championship, then tag-teamed their post-round news conference. Into the room walked another young American who was high on the leaderboard.

In her "master of ceremonies" voice, Lincicome said, "Jessica Korda, everyone!"

All three were in a sunny mood despite more gray skies at Locust Hill Country Club. The pouring rain that completely washed out Thursday's play had mostly halted overnight, leaving the course soggy but playable.

Pressel stood in a tie for second after a round of 4-under 68, one shot behind Chella Choi of South Korea. Lincicome was fourth with a 69, and Korda was tied for fifth with past LPGA Championship winner Se Ri Pak of South Korea at 70.

Speaking of big names, another was at 71: Laura Davies. American teenager Lexi Thompson also was at 71. The hope is to play Round 2 Saturday, then play 36 holes on Sunday.

Lincicome, Korda and Thompson are expected to be on the U.S. team for the Solheim Cup in August. But Pressel -- who has made three Solheim appearances -- entered this tournament far down the points list at 15th.

With double points being awarded for a major, a strong showing here could put Pressel back in the Solheim mix. And it would signal a big turnaround in her year, which has been happy personally -- she was married in January -- but not very productive on the golf course.

Pressel, 25, has just one top-10 finish this year, a tie for 10th in early March, and has missed the cut in five of her 10 events, including last week at the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey. Pressel did finish tied for 13th in the rain-shortened Bahamas event the week before, though, so perhaps that was an indication her game was coming around.

Pressel said she changed to a slightly softer insert on her putter while in the Bahamas, and she thinks it's helped her roll the ball better. You know golfers -- sometimes if they believe something, then it becomes true.

She got hot with the putter on her closing holes Friday, getting birdies on Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18. That's the kind of finish that makes lunch taste a lot better.

"I didn't put myself in any real bad trouble, which you can certainly find on this golf course," Pressel said. "Having a whole day off yesterday, I was pretty bored. I just tried to relax so that I would be ready for the next long three days."

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Looking for some good vibes on the course, Brittany Lincicome finds some with a 3-under 69.

You might be saying, "Wait? Is Pressel really just 25?" She's been on the golf scene so long -- qualifying for the 2001 U.S. Women's Open at age 12 -- that it might seem she's older. Pressel has two career LPGA victories, including a major (the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship). She admits she wants so badly to play in the Solheim Cup again this year that it has negatively impacted her play.

"There have been times when it has kept me from playing better because I've been so worried about it," Pressel said. "So I'm trying to just go out and play my game and not worry about it so much."

It was at this tournament last year that Pressel began to feel the effects of a wrist injury that was exacerbated by hitting out of the rough at Locust Hill. Pain has extended from her thumb all the way up through her elbow, shoulder and neck.

Pressel explained to the media the history of the ailment, the various ways she's treated it and how it is affecting her now.

Then her friend Lincicome deadpanned of what was hurting Pressel's wrist and arm: "I think it's the big ring on her finger."

Pressel said during Thursday's wait for play to be called, Lincicome was running around wearing Pressel's engagement ring from husband Andy Bush, who works for Octagon management agency. That's exactly the kind of goofy thing Lincicome would do during a rain delay.

Lincicome is known for her one-liners and general easygoing personality, but she has been dealing with her own lack of good vibes on the course. She would love to add another major championship to her résumé. Like Pressel, she has won the Kraft Nabisco Championship (in 2009), one of her five LPGA victories.

Also like Pressel, she hasn't had a very good year, with no top-10s and five missed cuts, including her past two events.

"I really can't even pinpoint one specific thing," Lincicome said. "In the offseason, I tried taking lessons, and I'm more of a feel player. I just kind of hit it, find it and hit it again. [So] I think I was trying to change too many things at one time … and lost my confidence.

"[I] took last week off to kind of go home and regroup, and try to remember that, 'You know, I've won five times on the LPGA Tour, and I've been here before, and I can do this.' "

Pressel and Lincicome said it helped both of them to play in the same group Friday. "We do enjoy each other's company and have a lot of fun together," Pressel said.

Now they hope they can carry over this good start through what is going to be a long weekend.

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