Lopez comeback starts with last-place finish

Lopez comeback starts with last-place finish

REUNION, Fla. (AP) — Nancy Lopez had a rough start in her comeback attempt.

The 50-year-old Hall of Famer missed the cut Friday in the Ginn Open, following her opening 83 with an 80 to finish last in the 140-player field at 19-over 163.

It was the first time in Lopez’s 34-year career that she failed to break 80 in either of the first two rounds on tour. Her previous career high was 161, set in 2002 at the LPGA Championship and matched in 2003 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

“I wanted to play better than I did, for sure,” Lopez said. “I’m disappointed with my numbers, but getting out here and playing is the only way you can come back.”

Lopez can blame the back nine at the Reunion Resort & Club. She was 11 over on the nine in the opening round Thursday and 7 over Friday.

“That backside, I just couldn’t figure it out for some reason,” she said.

Lopez has 48 LPGA Tour wins, the last in 1997 in the rain-shortened Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. She played 11 events over the last four years, taking time off to spend with her family, and made one cut.

But she insisted this was a serious comeback bid. She lost nearly 40 pounds, dedicated time to work on her game and made plans to play at least seven events.

“You can practice and play, but you’ve got to walk and play — that’s a big difference to really walk every day and play every day,” she said.

Neither came easy on the 6,505-yard course near Orlando.

Lopez broke a toe last week when she walked into a piece of iron furniture.

“My feet are killing me,” she said. “The toe didn’t bother me when I swung at all. It was just walking. I got tired of limping on it.”

Her game was troubling at times, too.

She wasn’t nearly as long off the tee as some of the other players — most of them are half her age — and struggled with touch shots around the greens.

“I’m going to work on my game a lot more and get out of some of the bad habits I’ve worked myself into,” she said. “You’ve got to be able to play golf without thinking too much.”

Lopez planned to stay in Reunion over the weekend and fine-tune parts of her game. She’s unsure when she will play next, but she is eyeing the SemGroup Championship in Oklahoma that begins May 4. Lopez played college golf at Tulsa and knows the Cedar Ridge Country Club well.

“I’ve got to get my family organized before I can do a lot of things,” she said.

Although Lopez had plenty of concerns leaving the course, she also had a few positives. She birdied three of her final five holes Friday, hitting good iron shots, making putts and feeling a little like she did when she dominated the tour.

“I wanted to do much better, so I’m disappointed in that,” she said. “But I did hit a lot of good shots and a lot of good things were happening out there. I hit some good shots and there was better timing.

“It was a competitive fun. I felt very comfortable again and excited to be standing over shots with pressure.”

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