2006: This time, Hurst hangs on

Portland, Ore.

Pat Hurst had been knocking on the door all season before finally busting through at the Safeway Classic. Morgan Pressel, meanwhile, remains on the outside looking in.

With five top-5 finishes since May – including a playoff loss to Annika Sorenstam at the U.S. Women’s Open – Hurst, 36, had been close to her fifth career victory several times in 2006.

“It’s just a matter of finishing, and I haven't been able to finish,” she said after Saturday’s second round left her one shot off the lead.

Hurst made sure that wouldn’t be a problem from the start Aug. 20, vaulting to the top of a crowded leaderboard with birdies on four of her first five holes. She then hung on down the stretch to shoot 68, posting three more birdies to offset three bogeys – including one on the par-4 17th that made things closer than Hurst would have liked.

She had to sweat out an 18-foot birdie attempt by Jeon Jang on the final hole that would have forced a playoff, something Hurst – 0-4 in playoffs for her career – undoubtedly did not want. Hurst finished at 10-under 206, one ahead of Jang (70) and Kim Saiki (67). Juli Inkster (70) finished fourth at 208.

Pressel, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur champ, began the day tied for the lead with Jang and two others, the first time the 18-year-old had started the final round in the lead as a professional.

The heralded rookie couldn’t get anything going early, however, going 1 over in her first six holes to fall behind Hurst’s pace. Pressel also faltered late, making double bogey on the par-3 16th and bogey on the 17th. She finished with a 2-over 74 and tied for seventh.

Futures is now for Prange:

The bad news for Ashley Prange, who received an exemption into the Safeway Classic via her victory on The Golf Channel’s “Big Break V: Hawaii,” was that she missed the cut after shooting 77-77.

The good news was that she didn’t lose any ground on the Duramed Futures Tour money list, remaining fourth with two events to go. The top five money earners will earn 2007 LPGA cards.

“Obviously I’d like to have played better,” Prange said. “But it was a major learning week for me. . . . If anything I have even more motivation when I get back out there (for the final two Futures events) to play my tail off to get out here for good.”

Short shots: U.S. Curtis Cup team member Paige Mackenzie made the cut in her last event as an amateur. The former University of Washington standout shot 72-70-75 and tied for 45th at the Safeway, then planned to turn pro at this week’s Wendy’s Championship for Children, where she received a sponsor exemption. . . . Nina Reis, who started her first round on No. 10, became just the second golfer in LPGA history – the first since Alice Ritzman at the 1979 Colgate European Open – to record three eagles in one round. The rookie from Sweden made her first on the par-5 12th, then became only the 13th LPGA player to post back-to-back eagles when she made 3 on the par-5 seventh and followed with a hole-in-one on the 129-yard eighth with a pitching wedge. Reis, however, was 6 over on her other 15 holes Friday, and finished the opening round tied for 57th after an even-par 72. She shot 76 in Round 2 and missed the cut. . . . First-round leader Jee Young Lee, who made an eagle and seven consecutive birdies in an opening 64, finished 75-71 and tied for fifth after bogeying three of her final six holes Sunday. It was her second consecutive top 5 after she also finished fifth at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. . . . Rookie Diana Ramage shot 68-76-68 to tie for 14th. It was the former Auburn standout’s first made cut in 15 events, and marked the first time she had broken 70 this season. . . . Defending champion Soo-Yun Kang withdrew after nine holes of Round 2 because of a neck injury. . . . Jenna Daniels tied her career low with a 6-under 66 in Round 1, was tied for the lead through 36 holes and was on track for her first top 10 since her rookie year of 2001. But she went 5 over on a late three-hole stretch (Nos. 14-16) Sunday, including a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 14th, shot 77 and fell to a tie for 25th.

– Staff and wire reports

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