Weather on Thursday was as perfect as the golf course was. And conditions at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Ca. are up to par for a major championship.
Overall I thought I played fairly well, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster said. I hit one bad swing on No. 14, but I thought the course was playing tough out there. The wind was up. The greens were hard. The rough is up. It was extremely tough to get the right club in your hand. Inkster made three bogies and six birdies during the first round. Her final birdie on the par-3 16th gave her what she needed to tie the lead.
She has won this event twice before ' in 1984 and again in 1989. Her best finish in the 1990s came in 1992 when she finished second.
Mission Hills, which is already difficult was made more so by the height of the rough. It is as thick as I remember in a long time, Inkster, who finished tied for 17th last year said. But for a major championship it should be tough, I mean, there is plenty of room to drive it out there.'
You know, the rough is pretty thick out there this week, and I remember it being thick at times and other times it hasn't been this thick, '98 champion Pat Hurst said after shooting 35-35 in the first round. But I think it depends on where you are and which way it has been mowed and how much it is sitting down. So there were times today when I can get a club on the ball and then there were times when I couldn't get a club on the ball. So it is pretty thick.
The rough hasnt been mowed since last Sunday but it is rumored that it will be after completion of the second round.
Dottie Pepper and amateur player Lorena Ochoa are tied with Tina Barrett, Laura Davies, and Laura Diaz at 1-under-par.
Pepper has been playing great as of late. So far this year she has played in five of the seven official LPGA Tour sanctioned events. Her best finish was at the Welchs/Circle K where she finished tied for second. Twice this season she has finished third and this week Pepper is one of many American born players who will be looking to add a win to their record.
The 17-time winner shot 33 on the front nine to jump into the lead after a spectacular hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth. On the back nine the wind picked up and she had some trouble carding three bogies before all was said and done. A lone birdie on the 11th was her last of the first round.
Annika Sorenstam shot 35-37 finishing tied for 13th at even par. The eight-year veteran has never done well in the first round of this major but has been able to make up ground over the weekend. Last year Sorenstam shot 76 during the first round. She followed with rounds of 72-73-71 292 to finish tied for 17th and earn $14,321.
Those that had morning tee times on Thursday had a slight advantage as the wind picked up in the afternoon making low scores less attainable.
Karrie Webb, winless on the LPGA Tour this season, and Se Ri Pak ' both of whom had afternoon tee times - did not have stellar first rounds. They are presently tied in 23rd position at 1-over-par 73 along with ten other competitors in the field.
The Wongluekiet twins also teed off in the afternoon. Aree Song Wongluekiet is currently 4-over-par. She managed to card a 39 of the front nine and didnt do much better on the backside. Naree Song Wongluekiet shot 37-37 2-over-par to finish two strokes better than her sister.
Full-Field Scores from the Nabisco Championship