Juli Inkster said she had been struggling on the LPGA tour this year coming into the Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament.
She revived, though, on Thursday, despite the 96-degree temperature, to take the first-round lead with a six-under-par 66 at Mission Hills Country Club.
“I was really tired out there,” Inkster said of the heat, “but it’s amazing how much energy you have when you are under par.”
Inkster, 28, who won the Dinah Shore tournament in 1984, said she likes the layout of the course.
That was obvious. Starting with a 40-footer on No. 1, she birdied seven of the first 12 holes. Her only bogey came on the par-five, 526-yard 18th hole.
Dale Eggeling finished with a flurry--with birdies on the last two holes--to shoot a 68 for second place.
Four players--Beth Daniel, Lori Garbacz, Jody Rosenthal and Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann--were tied for third with three-under-par 69s.
Any Alcott, the defending champion, had a 71, having missed two putts of fewer than two feet.
Pat Bradley, who is making a comeback after suffering from hyperthyroidism, shot a 70 and Nancy Lopez is six strokes behind the leader after a 72.
Inkster, who won three tournaments last year and finished in the top 10 in every statistical category, said her putter had betrayed her in previous tournaments.
Her best finish in five events was a tie for 19th in the Women’s Kemper Open at Hawaii in February.
Inkster missed only two greens, the ninth and 18th, in her splendid round. Of her seven birdie putts, three were from 20 to 25 feet.
She said that she gets motivated for the Dinah Shore tournament because it has a certain aura.
“It definitely has a major atmosphere,” said Inkster, who lives in Los Altos, Calif. “This tournament and the U.S. Open are the biggest, prestige-wise.”
Daniel and Garbacz weren’t particularly enthused about their rounds of 69.
“It was a funny type of round,” Daniel said. “It wasn’t one I’d look back on and (know) I shot a 69. I won’t remember it for very long as being spectacular. I didn’t hit any shots that were great. I just sort of was there and made some birdies.”
Garbacz, a 10-year veteran who got her first tour victory two weeks ago at Tucson, was even more disdainful of her round.
“It was one of the ugliest 69s I have ever seen,” she said. “I can’t wait for this week to be over because my ball-striking really smells. I can’t explain the 69. It could have been a 76.”
Neumann, who was the rookie of the year in 1988 and the U.S. Open women’s champion, did not downgrade her 69.
“I just tried to stay patient,” she said. “Just hit the fairways and make some pars.”
Daniel is suffering from a viral infection, but she’s relieved that her condition isn’t as bad as she feared. She missed 13 weeks of the tour last year while suffering from mononucleosis.
“Last Thursday night, I woke up freezing,” she said. “It was exactly one year from the date that I had been diagnosed as having mono.”
Daniel, who has finished second twice this year in six events, said she is running a fever but it has subsided from a temperature of 102 last weekend.
My glands and gums are swollen and I’m having a hard time eating,” she said. “Don’t write how thin I am. It’s not my fault.”
Daniel said she was feeling weak the last two holes, adding that the sun was draining her.
“I’m not at full strength, but I’m hitting the ball well despite it, although I’m a little weak with the driver.
“I watched this tournament on TV last year when I was in bed, and it was murder.”
Garbacz said that she and the Mission Hills course are like oil and water.
“We just don’t mix,” she said. “However, I’m stubborn and I’m going to find a way to play the course.”
The heat was something that the women had to contend with, along with the pressure of the tournament.
“We stayed quite a bit in the shade,” Eggeling said, “and we made sure we had plenty of water. The last time I shot a 68 in the first round was in 1980 in a tournament in Boston.”
Said Alcott: “It was very hot out there. You had to be conscious of what you were doing. I used towels and handkerchiefs, wet ones, over my head.”
As for Bradley, a 15-year tour veteran, she is just happy to be playing--and in reasonably good health.
“My health is on its way back to normal,” said Bradley, who played in a prestigious threesome with Alcott and Lopez. “Mrs. Bush (the President’s wife) was just diagnosed with the same disease, Graves’ disease. It’s a unique illness that is hard to detect.
“It’s incredible the number of people who have the same problem, and they give me a lot of encouragement.”
Muffin Spencer-Devlin made a hole-in-one on the par-five, 160-yard fifth hole. She used a six-iron. . . . A record Thursday crowd of 10,564 watched the opening of the $500,000 tournament.