Allision Finney - Granite Links is "Way Prettier" than CarnoustieBJ's Charity Championship
Blalock, Nomura in hunt
QUINCY -- When Jane Blalock hit from 88 yards to within a foot of the pin on No. 18, she raised her arms in celebration as the gallery cheered. She birdied the par-5, 490-yard hole to finish at 4-under-par 68 with partner Mieko Nomura, three shots behind leaders Colleen Walker and Barb Mucha (65) after the best-ball first round of the BJ's Charity Championship at Granite Links.
Blalock, a Portsmouth, N.H., native who resides in Cambridge, said being in the hunt for today's scramble-format final round is very satisfying, particularly the way her round ended.
"I hit a 50-degree wedge," she said. "One thing you don't want to do [is land in the bunker] because the bunkers are tough here. I wanted to make sure I landed on the front of the green to have a chance at birdie. It was a good shot."
Blalock has a lot more on her plate than just playing golf. The local icon serves as president of the Legends Tour, which puts on the BJ's tournament. Blalock said the key is being able to focus on the task at hand.
"I'm very fortunate," said Blalock. "One of the reasons I was successful in my career is because I had the ability to concentrate. Once I step inside the ropes, I'm able to block everything else out. I also have a very good staff, so I know everything is in order."
The key to her success yesterday?
"[Friday] I came out early, about 9 o'clock, I played the afternoon in the pro-am, and I had about an hour and a half completely to myself on the range. I had a chance to think clearly and come up with one or two key thoughts that I knew would stick with me [yesterday]. So I never really got stuck or too stressed out because I just stayed with those one or two thoughts. It didn't always work, but I really didn't get myself in any trouble and I hit shots when I had to and that feels really, really good."
Judy Dickinson, another popular player on the Legends Tour, was paired with Laurie Rinker for the first time. They started Round 1 with an eagle by Rinker and a pair of birdies on Nos. 4 and 6, but didn't do as well on the back nine, finishing at 4 under and in a fifth-place tie with Blalock's team and five others.
"Laurie chipped it in on the first hole for eagle, which got us going really great," said Dickinson, a former president of the LPGA and a founding member of the Women's Senior Golf Tour. "We were 4 under on the front nine and then we had some chances. We made a couple of good par-saves. We had a lot of good birdie chances. We just didn't convert them on the back nine."
Ironically, they were most proud of a bogey on No. 12. "We both put it into the water," said Dickinson. "We both topped it. I was able to make birdie on my next ball. It was a great 5. That really helped us."
Defending champions Nancy Scranton and Christa Johnson finished at 6 under, tied for second with Allison Finney and Debbie Massey and Sandra Haynie and Val Skinner.
"I'd like to say I bookended her fantastic round," said Finney. "I started out with a birdie and Deb took over. She could've birdied every other hole on the front."
They wound up with five birdies on the front and just one of the back (along with eight pars).
Finney is just back from Europe, where she watched the Evian Masters in France, and played the men's British Open course -- Carnoustie -- in Scotland. "I got used to hitting it out of the rough for a couple of days," she said with a laugh.
When asked how she'd compare Granite Links to that course, she said there wasn't any comparison. "It's way prettier. Way prettier."
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at Marrapese@globe.com.