Lunke's first-round pairing with Angela Stanford and Kelly Robbins, the two golfers she outdueled in a playoff to win last year's Open, made for a few nerves in the early going at Orchards Golf Club.
Lunke's hands shook as she teed up her first ball.
'It felt like we were going back into the playoff,' Lunke said Thursday. 'It was kind of a high-stress situation the first couple of holes.'
After making two bogeys and a double-bogey the first four holes, the defending champ settled down and rallied with five birdies, finishing at 1-over-par 72, two strokes ahead of Robbins and four better than Stanford.
'I've been introduced at every tournament the last year as the U.S. Open champion, but it never felt the same as it did coming back to the tournament itself, and being introduced as the defending champion,' she said. '(It) definitely got my nerves going.'
JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD
Five days before the birth of her first child in February, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc was swinging a golf club for fun.
Meunier-Lebouc is back to serious competition now, and her comeback is somewhat of a family affair as she's accompanied on tour by her husband, Antone, her mother and infant daughter, Phildine.
After a 4-under 67 Thursday, one stroke behind leader amateur Brittany Lincicome, Meunier-Lebouc said she has found a new perspective in motherhood and in her game.
'I'm really trying to work on my game, but at the same time I can't expect too much from myself. It's the best way to play golf because actually I'm enjoying myself so much,' Meunier-Lebouc said.
Meunier-Lebouc is looking for her second major title. She won the Kraft Nabisco in 2003 before becoming pregnant. She was back on tour 10 weeks after giving birth, and the Open marks her eighth event of the season. She's coming off a season-best fifth-place finish at Rochester.
'I'm not coming back to prove anything,' she said. 'I'm just trying to build a family at the same time I'm working hard ... and enjoying myself.'
INSIDE THE ROPES
With her father, B.J., back on her bag, 14-year-old Michelle Wie had her mother close by as well. Bo Wie was granted a special USGA pass to walk inside the ropes with her daughter's threesome on Thursday, rooting the young star on after every solid drive and clutch putt.
Bo Wie usually follows along in the gallery, so it was a first for mother and daughter.
'It was something I never experienced before,' Michelle Wie said. 'She was yelling pretty loud.'
USGA officials said players are allowed one special pass for the event and the guest must follow the same rules as media by staying within an arm's length of the ropes.
'Technically, it's for spouses and significant others, but we have a lot of very young players in the field. (They) tend to want somebody with them inside the ropes,' USGA spokesman Marty Parkes said. 'Players with 10, 15 or 20 U.S. Opens are pretty much unfazed by everything.'
Curtis Cup member Erica Blasberg, who just completed her sophomore year at Arizona, is turning professional after the U.S. Women's Open.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.