The weather once again was the main storyline at the LPGA Championship at Rockland, Del. This time, though, rain and lightning wasn’t an issue.
Playing in cool temperatures and a swirling wind that gusted to 30 mph, Sherri Steinhauer blew past the competition with a par round of 71 Friday for a 3-under 139 total and a two-shot lead halfway through the 72-hole tournament.
Leta Lindley, with a 69, was the only golfer to break par Friday on the windswept DuPont Country Club course. Lindley, Barb Mucha and Chris Johnson were at 141 and first-round leader and defending champion Laura Davies was alone in fifth at 142 despite shooting a 75.
Annika Sorenstam, the leading money-winner on the tour, shot a 73 and was among four players at 143.
Steinhauer, who hasn’t won an LPGA event since 1994, offset a double-bogey and three bogeys with five birdies during a whirlwind round on the 6,386-yard course.
Tracy Hanson of Rathdrum, Idaho, ballooned to an 82 after an opening round 71 and failed to make the cut.
Byron Nelson Classic
Tiger Woods can shoot a 29 for nine holes and not even know it. Lee Rinker can shoot a 63 for 18 holes and no one else knows it.
That just about sums up the difference between Woods and the mere mortals on the tour. Woods is playing on a different level, the others are playing to virtual indifference.
A wildly appreciative gallery on the Cottonwood course cheered Woods’ every move as he shot another 64 at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas, teasing the crowd with dreams of a 59 when he played the first 11 holes seven under par.
“I went out in 29?” Woods said with genuine surprise when asked about his front-nine score. “I had no idea.”
Rinker, meanwhile, couldn’t have gotten a good poker game together with his gallery. He made a 50-foot putt, chipped in from 50 feet another time and finished with three consecutive birdies as he shot a 63 on the TPC course at the Four Seasons Resort.
“What gallery?” Rinker replied when asked how many people followed his round. “I think the only people following us were family members.”
Woods and Rinker were at 12-under-par 128 after 36 holes, one stroke ahead of Mike Standly and two better than Paul Stankowski and Jim Furyk.
Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot a 65 and is four shots back.
But the round that set everyone’s heart racing was by Woods.
He birdied four holes in a row starting at No. 2 - three times on putts of 12 feet or less - and picked up another birdie on No. 8 - on an 8-footer - to turn the par-34 front nine in 29 strokes, needing only 11 putts.
“There is not a hole on either of these courses where par is a good score for him,” Rinker, a non-winner in three years on the tour, said about Woods.
“I’ll be pumped playing with him tomorrow,” Rinker said. “The adrenaline will be flowing. Maybe I’ll be able to hit it within 50 yards of him.”
Birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 put Woods at seven under par for the day and meant he needed to play the final seven holes four under par to shoot a 59, a score achieved on the PGA Tour only twice - by Al Geiberger in 1977 and Chip Beck in 1991, both times on par-72 courses.
But Woods, who really wasn’t very sharp, played the last seven holes one over par as he failed to get his irons close to the cup.
Cadillac NFL Classic
George Archer took a major step in his comeback from hip replacement by shooting 5-under-par 67 in gusty winds for a four-shot lead after the first round of the $950,000 Cadillac NFL Classic in Clifton, N.J.
Mike McCullough and Hugh Baiocchi were at 1-under par and were the only other players in the field of 78 to break par on the narrow 6,816-yard Upper Montclair Country Club which was buffeted by winds of 20-to-30 mph.
The first-round lead was the largest on the Senior PGA Tour this year, two better than the previous best.