AURORA, Ill. -- Tina Barrett hit her approach at the pin and
watched in disbelief as it stopped short and hung on the lip.
Then, after a long walk and a longer wait, it finally dropped.
That eagle at No. 2 and a birdie on the final hole gave her a
6-under 66 at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic on Friday for a one-shot
lead over a bunched field heading into the weekend.
"When we were walking up I thought, 'I can't believe this.'
They were saying to my caddie that he has to pull the pin. Then all
of a sudden it fell in," Barrett said. "It was pretty amazing."
Barrett played a bogey-free round to lead five players grouped
at 5 under: Nancy Scranton, Liselotte Neumann, Jessica Reese,
Cristie Kerr and Catherine Cartwright.
There was one noticeable name absent atop the leaderboard:
The two-time defending champion, who opened with rounds of 62
and 63 the last two years and has never trailed after a round here,
finished five strokes off the lead with a 1-under 71.
Aside from the break on No. 2, Barrett got another one on the
18th. Her 9-iron approach bounced off a ridge and rolled toward the
hole to give her a 10-foot birdie putt.
"I got a nice kick off the hill there," she said.
That was nothing compared to the drama at No. 2.
After a par on the first hole, Barrett knocked a sand wedge 89
yards to the green that stopped just shy of the hole. When it
finally did fall in, a marshal came over to make sure she hadn't
waited too long for the shot to drop. She hadn't.
Barrett hasn't won on the tour since 1989, her rookie year. It's
a streak she'd love to end this weekend.
"For whatever reason it never happened for me," she said.
"I'd like to get that second one, that's for sure."
Fourteen players were within two shots of the lead after the
first round, which was played under ideal conditions at Stonebridge
Country Club. After several days of rain, players were greeted by
sunny skies and little wind for the opening day.
Scranton, who had six birdies, has struggled lately after
switching to a new putter. It worked for her Friday, though.
"I feel as good right now as I've ever felt," she said. "I've
just got to (get) used to playing well again. The putter's been a
little bit of a worry."
Sorenstam just never got going, missing makable birdie putts on
the first three holes. She was even-par through 17 when she hit her
best shot of the day, an approach at the final hole that dropped
within inches of the cup for a near eagle.
Sorenstam tapped in for an easy birdie, waved at the cheering
gallery and walked off the course a little disappointed.
"I didn't get off to a hot start like in the past, but I feel
really good about my game," said Sorenstam, who has three wins is
six tournaments this year. "It's the first day and a lot can
happen. I'm not going to even look up at the leaderboard."
Christina Kim took the early lead and was 6 under through nine
holes before faltering on the back nine.
The 20-year-old Kim saved par on No. 10 after hitting her drive
into the rough behind a tree. Kim punched out, chipped onto the
green and rolled in a 20-footer to keep the lead. But she bogeyed
the next hole after pushing her second shot into thick rough, then
bogeyed No. 14 to finish two shots back with a 4-under 68.
Grace Park, second on the LPGA money list behind Sorenstam, was
6 under with three holes to play when her promising round
unraveled. She bogeyed the seventh, then hooked a 5-iron into the
water on the par-5 ninth for another bogey and a round of 68.
Park, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year
for her first major title, called the approach at No. 9 her "worst
shot of the year."
"That was an embarrassing shot," Park said. "Obviously I'm a
little disappointed with the way I finished because I had such a
great start to the round.
"Then it just all seemed to disappear."