Mallon Surprisingly Grabs LPGA Lead
Meg Mallon, seeking her first major LPGA title in nine years, took an unconventional path to the first-round lead of the US Women's Open in Libertyville, Illinois Thursday.
To avoid a water hazard, Mallon played from the tee of the 14th hole to the 13th fairway on her way to a four-under-par 68 and a one-stroke lead over Australians Karrie Webb and Shani Waugh.
Mallon won the 1991 LPGA Championship and US Open and was second at last year's Dinah Shore. She has played well under tough US Open conditions.
"I'm just trying to play some good golf," Mallon said. "I've been playing well. I'm sure that's what it has to do with and I've played well in Opens."
Mallon had four birdies in her bogey-free round but her best score may have been a par at the par-4, 406-yard 14th hole, which has an angled pond that creates tough club choices and a bunker on the left of the fairway.
Webb, who won the Dinah Shore major title by 10 strokes in March, birdied two of her final three holes. The five-time winner in 2000 overcame three bogeys on the first 10 holes. She made a routine par at the 14th.
Waugh, in only her second US Women's Open, closed the back nine with three birdies in a row to join Webb one stroke ahead of Kellee Booth and defending champion Juli Inkster.
Inkster is looking to become the first player in LPGA history to successfully defend two major championships in the same year. Three weeks ago, she won the McDonald's LPGA Championship in a playoff with Stefania Croce.
Former US Women's Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne and LPGA Hall of Fame members Betsy King and Beth Daniel are among seven at 71.
Two-time champion Annika Sorenstam of Sweden, who has won a tour-high five events this year, struggled to a 1-over 73. She won last week and captured the US Women's Open crown in 1995 and 1996.
The field of 140 is vying for a $500,000 first prize, the largest in women's professional golf history. The overall purse of $2.75 million also is a women's record - (AFP)
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