NEW ROCHELLE, New York, AP
Kathryn Marshall of Scotland, No. 79 on the LPGA Tour money list, and South Korea’s Minny Yeo, 150th on the earnings sheet, shot 3-under-par 68s Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Big Apple Classic.
The unlikely leaders were one shot in front of a group of four and two strokes in front of another 11 players, including Australian Karrie Webb.
This was the first tournament for Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam and America’s Juli Inkster, ranked 1-2 on the money list, since the U.S. Open on July 7. Inkster overtook Sorenstam in a dramatic final round for her second Open title. Both took the last two weeks off and Sorenstam had the better return with a 71, while Inkster was at 4-over 75 on the 5,545-meter (6,161-yard) Wykagyl Country Club course.
Yeo, who has won US$9,906 in three events this year for a total of US$17,955 in her third year on tour, shot the best round of her career.
“All day I had pretty far from the pin, so I made a lot of putts,” said Yeo, the 30-year-old who joined this field Monday when countrywoman Se Ri Pak withdrew. “This is my third year, so I think I better play better this time.”
Marshall, 35, is in her 10th year on tour with one victory — the Jamie Farr Classic in 1995. She has won US$63,254 this year in 16 events but has missed the cut in her last four starts.
“It’s been a tough last month but I took off last week and recharged,” Marshall said. “I went to Canada and went boating and jet-skiing, everything but golf.”
She was the only player to get to 4-under, and did it with a irdie on the par-3 4th, her 13th hole of the day, but consecutive bogeys on 7 and 8 knocked her out of the lead. She made a 1-meter (3 foot) birdie putt on the final hole to get back to 3-under.
“That was huge psychologically, a huge boost for me,” she said of the putt she knew would lift her into a tie for the lead. “I always watch the leaderboards, it’s good to know where you are. I haven’t been up there much lately, though.”
The group at 69 included Americans Kelli Kuehne, Sherri Steinhauer, Kris Tschetter and Silvia Cavalleri of Italy. Among those joining Webb at 70 were Meg Mallon, Jennifer Rosales and Beth Bauer of the United States, and Hee-Won Han of South Korea.
Webb missed about a 1.8-meter (6-foot) birdie putt on her final hole.
“All in all 1-under is pretty good,” Webb said. “The greens were far too bumpy and things got a little tough in the afternoon with the breeze.”
Sorenstam was 2-under through 11 holes but finished at even par, missing about a 1.8-meter (6-foot) birdie putt on her final hole.
“I had some chances but just couldn’t get anything going,” she said. “I played some great golf and hit some great shots. There’s a long way to go.”
Inkster bogeyed the par-5 18th for her 75.
“I didn’t play bad. I had one triple out there and that pretty much sets my day,” she said. “I just never really got anything going but I’m not too far out it.”
Inkster was at even par when she got a 7 on the par-4 12th.
“I hit it left off the tee and had a little hook and it hit a root and popped out of bounds,” she said.
The tournament is sponsored by Sybase and has a purse of US$950,000, with a first prize of US$142,500.