Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Four ladies tied up at top at 6-under after the first round


Grace Park birdied the last three holes in a 6-under 66 Thursday that left her in a four-way tie after the first round of the LPGA Tournament of Champions.

Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz and Christina Kim also took advantage of soft conditions from overnight rain to shoot opening 66s.

Park played in the last pairing of the day at Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

"I birdied 6, 8 and 9 and that kind of got me excited," said Park, who has a win and three seconds in her last four tournaments. "Then, I stalled for a little bit. I was still hitting good shots. I made a great save on 10 for par and was just off a little bit, waiting for it to happen. And once it happened, it went boom, boom, boom."

Cristie Kerr, nursing tendinitis in her left elbow, was one shot off the lead. Lorena Ochoa, Rachel Teske and Wendy Doolan had 68s as 27 of 39 players in the select field broke par.

Diaz and Inkster had bogey-free rounds. Inkster rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt on 18 to cap her round, while Diaz missed a 9-foot birdie attempt on the final hole that would have given her the lead.

"We had a few sprinkles, but overall we were pretty lucky," Diaz said.

"You weren't getting much release on the ball out there. Because of the slopes, if you hit them in certain places, they still rolled down to the hole. The fairways were more wet than I was thinking. I did wake up in the middle of the night and I could hear the rain."

Inkster, looking for her first win of the year, and Kim made their charges on the back nine, Kim posting a 30 and Inkster a 32.

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