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Pak, Welch lead chase for Futures title

Of course, if Welch makes the Futures top five this year, she might not need those 2009 Futures fees. And if she wins at Erie Village, Welch could point to the last four holes of Saturday's round as the turning point.

Starting hot, Welch, who shot 70 in Friday's opening round, birdied the first three holes, but cooled off with just one birdie over the next 11 holes. She arrived at the 15th tee at four under par, and that's where the fun started.

Going right at the tough right hole location next to the lake, Welch hit it close and birdied, then turned her attention to the 300-yard par-four 16th hole, which bends around another lake but could be driven.

And Welch, the Futures Tour's longest hitter with an average of 264.3 yards per drive, smacked her tee shot right on the fringe of the green and made the 20-foot putt for an eagle 2.

Just like that, Welch was seven under, and when she birdied 18, she had caught Pak at eight under. Only when Pak drove near the 16th green with her own long tee shot, and turned it into a birdie, did the Korean regain the lead.

Welch, who tied for fourth at Erie Village a year ago, went four under par over the last four holes and got a Saturday 64, one shot off Jean-Mare Busuttil's tournament record set in 2001, to finish at 134.

Together, Pak and Welch are the heavy favorites on Sunday when they tee off at 9:30 a.m. With forecast of rain and thunderstorms for Sunday, tour officials are sending the players off early, starting at 7:30 a.m., from the 1st and 10th tees to insure that the tournament finishes.

As Saturday's events proved, that is no small concern. Just as Pak was playing the 2nd hole on Saturday, a heavy downpour hit the course, and the sight of lightning as soon as the rain ended led to an hour-long delay.

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