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Inkster shares lead at Open

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Karrie Webb was so lost in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open that she felt like she had never seen Prairie Dunes.

Juli Inkster played like she owned the course.

Twenty-two years after winning the U.S. Women's Amateur at Prairie Dunes, Inkster birdied four of the first six holes and finished with a 3-under-par 67, giving her a share of the lead with Laura Diaz and Shani Waugh.

''It's always important to have a good first round just to get yourself in the ball game,'' Inkster said.

Webb is already headed for the showers after a swift and shocking collapse.

Trying to become the first woman to win the Open three straight years, Webb had her worst round since joining the LPGA Tour in 1996, a 9-over 79 that left her hopeful only of making it to the weekend.

''I'm pretty shocked,'' Webb said. ''It was totally out of the blue.''

The result is not without precedent.

Five years ago, Annika Sorenstam was going for her third straight Women's Open title when she opened with a 77 and missed the cut.

History is still on the line at this Open, only now it shifts to the 42-year-old Inkster, who has a chance to become the oldest champion. Fay Crocker was 40 years, 11 months when she won in 1955.

Inkster relied heavily on her short game and wasted little time laying down the challenge to Sorenstam, who played in the same group.

''I feel like I'm off and running,'' Inkster said.

Sorenstam felt like she was running in place. Three straight bogeys on the back nine dropped her back to even-par 70 -- not a bad day, but the Swede was expecting more because of the benign conditions in the morning.

By late afternoon, the sun began to bake the greens and a blustery wind made scoring even more difficult. None of the 75 players who teed off in the afternoon managed to break par, leaving only six players in the 60s.

Kim Saiki had a bogey-free 68, while Lorie Kane of Canada and Catriona Matthew of Scotland were at 69. Sorenstam was among nine players at even-par 70, while 16-year-old Aree Wongluekiet and 45-year-old Beth Daniel were in a large group at 71.

Western Open

LEMONT, Ill. -- David Gossett had nine birdies in a 7-under 65 to take the lead in the first round of the Western Open which was suspended by rain with 50 players still on the course.

Bob Estes finished his final hole after the horn blew, but he birdied the par-5 9th and finished at 66.

John Cook, Jonathan Byrd, Davis Love III and Scott Verplank all were at 67. Defending champion Scott Hoch shot a 72.

European Open

STRAFFAN, Ireland -- Darren Fichardt of South Africa and Jarrod Moseley of Australia had 5-under 67s to share the first-round lead of the European Open.

Michael Campbell of New Zealand, Jorge Berendt of Argentina and Joakim Haeggman of Sweden were all one shot back, while Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie were among seven players at 69.



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