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Nine birdies help Reynolds grab lead at Symetra Tour’s Northeast Delta Dental Invitational

  • Jaclyn Sweeney tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jaclyn Sweeney tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Cydney Clanton knocks her ball out of the rough and onto the fairway during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Clanton was paired against Perrine Delacour and Kelsey Vines.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Cydney Clanton knocks her ball out of the rough and onto the fairway during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Clanton was paired against Perrine Delacour and Kelsey Vines.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Cydney Clanton tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Cydney Clanton tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jaclyn Sweeney tess off while playing in the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Sweeney was paired against Ashley Tait and Anya Alvarez. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jaclyn Sweeney tess off while playing in the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Sweeney was paired against Ashley Tait and Anya Alvarez.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jaclyn Sweeney tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Cydney Clanton knocks her ball out of the rough and onto the fairway during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Clanton was paired against Perrine Delacour and Kelsey Vines.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Cydney Clanton tees off during the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jaclyn Sweeney tess off while playing in the first round of the Northeast Delta Dental International tournament at Beaver Meadow on Friday, July 19, 2013 in Concord. Sweeney was paired against Ashley Tait and Anya Alvarez. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

CONCORD – For most of this year’s Symetra Tour, Jean Reynolds struggled to score. She was striking the ball well and giving herself chances, but she couldn’t finish the deal on the greens. Until last week.

“I was messing around with a new putter, liked it, and I put it in the bag, and that’s been a turnaround for me,” Reynolds said. “I played well last week in Albany, and then I played well here, so we’ll see where it goes.”

The putter took Reynolds to the top of leaderboard after yesterday’s first round at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow Golf Course. She carded a 6-under 66 to claim a two-stroke lead over a group of six players at 4 under that include three 2013 Symetra tournament winners – Christine Song, Kim Kaufman and Cydney Clanton – as well as 2005 U.S. Women’s Open champion Birdie Kim.

Reynolds finished tied for sixth in last week’s Credit Union Challenge in Albany, N.Y., a result that propelled her from 45th to 35th on the Symetra money list. And it gave her the confidence she needed to convert nine birdie putts yesterday in Concord.

“I’ve seen the ball go in the hole the last two weeks, and that’s important,” she said.

That was a sight Reynolds saw plenty in 2009 when she had nine top-10 finishes, including two wins, on this developmental tour (known then as the Futures Tour) and finished second on the money list to earn her LPGA card. But she went through a series of injuries after that, played in just 23 LPGA events in 2010 and 2011 (she missed the cut in 18 and her best result was a 19th-place finish) and found herself in qualifying school last year.

But Reynolds looked like she was back in ’09 form yesterday. Starting on the back nine, she birdied three of the first four holes and four of the first six. She did make three bogeys during the second half of her round, but she finished her day with a birdie on No. 9. Reynolds needed to use that new putter just 26 times after hitting 14 greens in regulation, which is kind of amazing since she hit just five fairways.

“Hitting fairways is boring,” Reynolds joked. “I wanted to make it exciting.”

She won’t want to make it too exciting in today’s second round considering the group behind her. Clanton is currently No. 2 on the money list and had little trouble at Beaver Meadow, carding five birdies and just one bogey. Kaufman is No. 9 on the money list even though she’s only been on tour for four events, and she finished at 4 under yesterday despite losing a little focus at the end of her round.

“I hit some really good wedges, which I knew would be important, and then made a lot of great putts,” Kaufman said. “And last week I struggled on the green, so this felt really good.”

Song started slowly yesterday, and it seemed like maybe her downward trend of recent weeks would continue. After winning in Sarasota, Fla. back in April, she’s had finishes of 31st, 46th, 35th, missed cut and 28th. But after bogeying her second hole of the day yesterday, she made four straight pars and then went on a run of six birdies in nine holes to race up the leaderboard.

“I haven’t been playing very well, I haven’t been scoring well, that was the problem,” Song said. “But today the putts were falling and it was just boosting up my confidence.”

And no one played more consistently than Kim, who hit 15 greens in regulation, didn’t record a single bogey and made two 20-foot birdie putts on the back nine, including one on No. 18, to shoot her 4 under.

“I think this round was really perfect today,” Kim said. “All my second shots were right at the greens and then easy two putts, and when I needed a good chip, I got it.”

That wasn’t the case for Kim last year when she shot 73-73-74 and wound up 50th in this event. But at that time she was still recovering from a serious car accident in 2009 that had kept her away from the game for two years.

“It feels different than last year, I wasn’t really ready yet,” Kim said. “But this year I’ve played much better, so it almost felt like a new golf course to me.”

P.K. Kongkraphan and Britney Hamilton are the two other golfers tied for second at 4 under. Kongkraphan, who is 15th on the money list, hit 17 greens in regulation and carded five birdies on the back nine. Hamilton was the surprise of the day considering she came in 102nd in the money rankings, but she has had some success at Beaver Meadow. She tied for 17th in last year’s event in Concord, her best finish of the season.

There’s also a dangerous trio of golfers at 3 under – Marissa Steen, Hannah Jun and Marina Alex – who could make a serious move today. Steen has finished third, second, eighth and 11th in her last four events and is seventh on the money list. Jun, who is 11th on the money list, has also been on fire recently, finishing fourth, fifth and fourth in her previous three events. And Alex, a two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year while at Vanderbilt, is currently 10th on the money list.

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