By Doug Gorman
There's never been a repeat winner at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship golf tournament.
Sophie Gustafson is trying to change history. The Swedish born player, who won the Eagle's Landing Country Club event in 2000, sits a top the leaderboard after Friday's first round.
Gustafson fired a 66 to take the lead on a day when nearly half the field was unable to finish their first rounds.
Golfers waited through an early-morning rainstorm which delayed the start of the tournament by almost four hours.
The former Chick-fil-A tournament champion put a little distance between herself and the rest of the field with a dramatic birdie on 18.
After going into the bunker, Gustafson recovered by hitting the ball to within seven feet of the hole to set up for her birdie putt.
Gustafson can't explain why success follows her to the Eagle's Landing Country Club.
"I really don't know why I play well here," she said. "The par 5s are reachable and I just like coming here."
Gustafson is being chased 12 players who are within two strokes of the lead.
Marietta resident Denise Killeen gave a local flavor to the tournament by shooting a 68 to head to the clubhouse just two strokes behind.
Cristie Kerr also fired a 68.
Kerr and Killeen are trying to become the first American born players to win on the LPGA tournament this season.
That door was left partially open after Annika Sorenstam, a winner in 12 events last year, and one already this season decided not to play this week.
Killeen doesn't feel any added pressure to win for Georgia or the United States, but admits winning in front of friends and family would be a nice touch.
"It would be nice to see an American player win a tournament, but I don't feel any added pressure to win in my home state."
The start of the tournament was delayed by more than fours after an early-morning downpour threatened to wash out the entire first round.
This course is in great shape considering how much rain we have had,"said Killeen. "I have to admit I didn't think we would play at all today."
Highlight by an eagle on the second hole, Gustafson finished the front nine with a two-under par 34, but it was a collection of birdies on the final nine holes which propelled her into the lead.
The former Chick-fil-A winner birdied 12, 13 and 14 before ending the streak with a par.
Killeen started her round on the 10th and made the turn at one under par.
She picked up three stokes on the front part of the course, picking up birdies on one, six and seven.
Kerr put herself in contention with five birdies during the first round.
"I have had some good rounds, and have been on the cusp of doing well here. You have to be on the top of your game here," Kerr said.
Eleven players are just two strokes back after shooting a 69. Among them is Patricia Meunier-Labouc, the winner of this year's Kraft Nabisco, the tour's first major.
Nearly half the field will have to return today to complete the first round.
Defending champion Juli Inkser got through 10 holes and is three over par.
Thirteen-year old amateur Michelle Wie was one of the players who didn't get to finish her round. Through five holes she was 1-under par.
The remaining field will finish their first rounds then also attempt to finish their seconds round today.