If experience is an advantage, Betsy King could be in the best position to win the Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament.
King shot the best round of the tournament Saturday, a five-under-par 67, to share the third-round lead with Sweden's Helen Alfredsson and Canadian-born Dawn Coe-Jones at Mission Hills Country Club. The leaders have a 54-hole score of 212, four under par.
King, 37, has won 28 tournaments in a career that began in 1977, and needs two more victories to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.
She won the Dinah Shore tournament, a major event on the LPGA tour, in 1987 and 1990.
By contrast, Alfredsson, 27, the rookie of the year on the LPGA Tour in 1992, is trying to win her first tournament.
Coe-Jones, 32, has one victory in a career that began in 1984, the 1992 Kemper Open.
As for any advantage that King might have, Alfredsson said: "I'm not going to worry about it. I'll just play my game. I can't control what she is doing."
Said Coe-Jones: "I have nothing to lose tomorrow."
The three players are one stroke ahead of Australian-born Jane Crafter.
Trish Johnson, who was born in Wales, is two strokes behind the pace, tied with Brandie Burton, which means four of the top six players on the leader board are foreign born.
There are 39 foreign players, from 15 countries, who have full or partially exempt status on the LPGA Tour this year, according to Golf World.
"Conditions on other tours can be brutal," veteran Amy Alcott said recently. "The weather is harsh, the travel is inconvenient, the courses are inconsistent and the money is bad.
"Then those players come to the U.S., see the way American players are coddled, and they think this is the cat's meow."
Five Hall of Fame players are in the field, including Patty Sheehan, who qualified recently for that honor.
King is on the threshold of the Hall of Fame. Asked if she thinks about it often, she said:
"When I'm in contention I do. I don't stand on the first tee the first day (and think about it). If I don't think about it, you guys (writers) will remind me."
King, who had seven birdies and two bogeys in her round, said the key to her round was her putting.
"Yesterday, I hit 14 greens and I had 34 putts," King said. "Today I hit 10 greens and had 26 putts."
Perhaps the key shot of her round came on the par-five 18th hole, after her second shot found a fairway bunker, 115 yards from the green.
She hit a seven-iron over the lake guarding the green to within five feet of the pin, then made her birdie putt.
King said the course is playing difficult.
"It is playing four shots harder than it was 10 years ago," she said.
King said the rough is particularly troublesome now.
"Laura Davies said she couldn't hit a seven-iron out of the rough," King said, "and if she can't, no one can."
The other co-leaders agreed.
"If you miss the green, you hope the ball goes into a bunker," Coe-Jones said. "The grass is growing as you stand there. It's a flat-out tough course."
Alfredsson said that it is not a course that a player attacks.
"The rough is tough," she said. "You can get in trouble so quickly."
Alfredsson shot a 72 in a round that she said was very up and down.
She speaks four languages--Swedish, German, English and Spanish.
Alfredsson has a habit of talking to her putter, sometimes swearing at it in Swedish.
Coe-Jones also had a 72, overcoming a 130-yard drive on the par-five second hole to eventually save par.
"There was a disturbance on the tee," said Coe-Jones, not identifying the distraction.
Coe-Jones was married to Jimmy Jones on Nov. 14.
"The honeymoon isn't over," she said. "I come to work happy every day."
Pat Bradley, who was a co-leader after 36 holes, shot a three-over-par 75 and is at 215, three strokes out . . . Nancy Lopez, who was assessed a two-stroke penalty for slow play on Friday, shot a 72 and is at 218 . . . Amy Alcott, who has won the Dinah Shore event three times, had a 76 and is at 222 . . . Patty Sheehan also had a 76 and is at 219 . . . Betsy King said she feels better about her game now than she did last year at this time. "It was a nightmare then," she said.
Betsy King: 71-74-67--212
Dawn Coe-Jones: 72-68-72--212
Helen Alfredsson: 69-71-72--212
Jane Crafter: 71-72-70--213
Brandie Burton: 73-73-68--214
Trish Johnson: 74-68-72--214
Tina Barrett: 70-73-72--215
Missie Berteotti: 68-74-73--215
Pat Bradley: 71-69-75--215
Marta Figueras-Dotti: 68-72-75--215
Karen Noble: 74-72-70--216
Nancy Scranton: 73-72-71--216
Amy Benz: 72-73-71--216
7 tied at 218