It finally got to her.
"I never did concentrate today. I was thinking about my interviews instead of my golf game," said rookie Nancy Lopez, who shot one-over par 73 yesterday to fall six strokes back of leader Jane Blalock in her bid to win six straight LPGA events.
Blalock's five-under 67 bettered the Hershey Country Club course record for women by two strokes and came largely as a result of a baseball game and a bet with her caddy.
Her caddy, PGA cardholder Lee Hetrick, playfully bet Blalock a dinner that she could not birdie the last three holes. She did finishing two strokes ahead of Peggy Conley, who never has won a pro tournament. Bonded at three strokes back were Pat Bradley, Eva Chang and Jane Renner.
"I'm going to look through the yellow pages and pick out a place that looks expensive," Blalock said.
Lopez also had her destination selected: her hotel bed. Since her record-setting fifth straight victory last week in Rochester, N.Y., Lopez has payed an exhiition in Chicago and booked her days solid with interviews. She turned down a request from the Today show.
"I want to play golf. I don't want to be running all over the United States," said Lopez. "I'm tired. I'm going to bed early tonight."
For Blalock, it marked her second straight weekend of good golf after a two-month slump. She had led by two strokes going into last weekend's final but shot one-over to trial Lopez' winning tally by two strokes.
She remembered that when she flew to Boston Tuesday to watch two games between her beloved Red Sox and the Yankees.
"It's such a great series. It gets me all psyched up," she said. "I had dinner with Carl Yastrzemski and he asked me what happened last Sunday. I said, 'Don't ask. But it won't happen again.'
"He's such a great competitior he gave me a good talk."
Throughout the day, Lopez helped the marshals silence her huge gallery, which was a part of the crowd of 7,100 that officials said might be a record for a first-day LPGA event. She asked a photographer to stop taking pictures of her while other golfers were putting. "I am not the only golfer here," she told the woman firmly but graciously.
She later told an LPGA publicist, "I really don't mind the cameras, but when they walk in front of me I feel like I have to act like a movie star. I'm not concentrating on what I'm doing." Then she smiled.
Several holes did not have restraining ropes, perhaps because LPGA events in other years did not attract a crowd. The spectators walked around the fairways, but Lopez said they didn't bother her.
"It was hard for them to tell where to go when there are no ropes," said Lopez. "I love the crowd. They did their best to stay out of the way."
Lopez bogeyed the second hole after a poor second shot led her off the fairway and behind some trees. She punched it to the green 55 feet from the pin and three-putted. On 13 she missed a two-foot par putt and took a bogey. Then she rallied with a 13-footer for par on 14 and a 15-footer on 15 for her only birdie.
On 16 she missed an 18-inch birdie putt that spun almost all the way around the cup and out.
"I'm still confident," said Lopez, who won the Sunstar Classic from five strokes back on the final day. "I have two days left. I'm really kind of happy with the way I played, under the circumstances. I'm going to go to bed early and maybe then I'll feel better."
Blalock had six birdies, sinking a 35-footer on eight that she said "broke the ice. I had been hitting well but hadn't been taking advantage of it." She also sank birdie putts of 20, 10 and eight feet (twice). A nine-iron shot to within two feet of the cup set up another bird.
Last week, when Blalock took the lead on the second day, she spoke of herself as not even being in the same category as Lopez. Yesterday, Blalock said, "Nancy is tough, she'll be right there. But I think I'll worry out my own game this week."