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Henry is Lollypop leader

Everything about Shirley Henry's golf game was just right Tuesday, right down to her sweater vest.

Henry, a 3-handicapper from Glen Lakes, shot 75 to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the 23rd annual Lollypop Invitational at Seven Rivers Golf and Country Club in Crystal River. The final round begins at 9 a.m. today.

"I'm tickled to death with my game," said Henry, who led a six-flight field through wet, cool and slightly windy conditions. "I had one three-putt green. I was delighted. I was even perfectly dressed; never had to take my sweater off."

The par-72 course at Seven Rivers was shortened for the tournament to a par-69 because standing pools of water made three holes unplayable from their usual tee markers. Head pro Ross Kuntz turned the par-5 No. 13 into a par-4, and the par-4 Nos. 16 and 18 into par-3s.

"We had over 14 inches of rain here over the weekend," Kuntz said. "But the golf course dried out immaculately, and quickly. We thought about making it a 15-hole tournament, but figured we could just shorten the three holes instead and still play 18."

Water was a factor only once in Hennry's round. On No. 17, her drive stayed to the right side of the fairway and landed in what she thought was casual water. But she could not find the ball, and therefore had to assume it was in the hazard, which cost her a penalty stroke.

Henry, who moved to Hernando County from Louisville little more than a year ago, got her only birdie of the day on the par-3 No. 11.

"I got up and down like crazy on the front," said Henry, who totaled 38 strokes on the front and 37 on the back. "I had a lot of one-putts that saved me."

Henry attributed her round to friendly playing partners.

"I had great company," said Henry, who played with Barbara Ragan of Hernando County's Seville course, Judi Meador of Ocala and Dee Dee Roberts of Gainesville. "I was very comfortable with them. And when you're comfortable with your company, you're more relaxed and play well.

"I hope I get the same foursome again (today)."

She may well.

Ragan and Roberts are right behind Henry at 78. Meador is 4 back at 79 along with Carlene Carlin of Buckhorn Springs. Four of the top five will make up today's leader group, which will begin on the No. 1 tee in the shotgun start.

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