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Eklund leads women in Southern Oregon Championships

Medford's Reena Eklund continued to play hot golf in sizzling heat on Thursday in the opening round of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Eklund, 21, who won the Medford Stroke Play Championships in the Women's Division last Sunday, continued to knock down birdies and shoot sub-par golf on Thursday in defeating Carol Fischer 7 and 6 in first-round play.

Eklund played 12 holes in one under par.

As long as my head stays on straight, I think I'm close to shooting the kind of scores I want, said Eklund. Standing over the ball, I like the feeling I have.

While Eklund, the runner-up to Mary Lou Mulflur in the 1997 Southern Oregon Women's Division, continues to strike the ball well and play strong mentally, she has plenty of company doing the same thing.

Kristin Couch, a former South Medford High star and one of Eklund's top rivals in high school and junior golf, opened her second Southern Oregon with an 8-and-7 victory over Gail Jantzer. Couch was eliminated in the semifinals last year by eventual champion Mulflur.

I feel good about my match, said Couch, who shot one under par for 11 holes. I'd like to win it. I think just about everybody here in this division is out to win, but I think I can do it.

Mulflur demonstrated on Thursday that she won't be easily dethroned this week. She opened with a 3-and-2 win over Nancy Moore.

In other matches, former champion Heather Holte defeated Linda Johnson — and 2, Jennifer Ausland stopped Tracie Armitage 7 and 6, and Trina Rasmussen defeated Missy Figara 1-up in one of the highlight matches of the first round.

She's a good player and it wasn't an easy first-round match, said Rasmussen, who was eliminated in the 1997 Southern Oregon semifinals by Eklund.

I have the game to win, but I probably haven't practiced enough, said Rasmussen. I think I have it in me, but it probably won't happen.

Rasmussen found herself trailing Figara by two holes just three holes into the match. It was hard to catch her until she finally faltered a little bit on the second nine, said Rasmussen. She's good. I have to give her credit for that.

Rasmussen will meet Couch in Saturday's second round, while Eklund will play Ausland.

Meanwhile, Mulflur will square off against Holte in a matchup of former Southern Oregon champions.

The Southern Oregon Golf Tournament Putting Contest started Thursday. The tournament runs through Saturday night.

Players must sink at least one 35-foot putt to get into the finals. Diane Bogey Loyd won the contest last year.