Veteran Joyce Kazmierski and two year-pro Julie Stanger each shot five under-par 68 to share the first-round lead of the 54-hole LPGA Greater Baltimore Golf Classic today at Pine Ridge.
Nancy Lopez Melton, who started a five-tournament winning streak here two years ago, birdied the 18th hole and tied for second at 69 with Angie Tsai, Louise Bruce, Vicki Fergon and Pat Bradley.
Kazmierski, who has finished second eight times but has never won, said, "I would love to win my first tournament here, especially. I learned to play on a public course (like Pine Ridge) and I have many friends here.
"I also have fond memories of this tournament because about nine or 10 years ago, I was about 45th on the money list of 50 players and I won $610 here. That was my biggest check up to that point. You look around this golf course and it's so beautiful, you might as well play good golf to match your feelings."
Kazmierski made birdie 4 on the par-five, 435-yard opening hole and shot the front nine in a torrid 33. "I know this golf course as well as anyone," she said. "A little strategy is to concentrate on the par-5s. If you don't make birdie on the first hole, you get down on yourself."
Kazmierski rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. "On that putt the grain went one way and the slope went the other. I played the putt straight and it almost tore the back of the hole out."
Stanger, a youngster from Escondido, Calif., eagled the opening hole with a drive, a crushed three-wood and a 30-foot putt. Stranger made four straight birdies on the nine and then bogied 15. She had a chance to take the lead outright but missed a five-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
I felt good out there but I didn't capitalize on the par-5s," said Lopez. She did birdie two of them but said that since she can reach all of them in two shots, she should birdie them all.
Amy Alcott, who won the U.S. Women's Open last week in Nashville, is shooting for her third straight LPGA win. She displaced Donna Caponi Young as the tour's leading money winner this week.
Splitting the fairways with her graphite driver, Alcott went 2 under par with a birdie on the difficult par-4, 404-yard 15th hole. She parred in from there, but took the scenic route on the final hole.
There Alcott pulled her drive left behind pines. She hit her second shot under tree branches back to the fairway. Her long iron third shot found heavy rough in front of the green. She hit a sand wedge to within two feet of the cup and made the putt for par and 71.
"For not being quite right, I played damm good today," said Alcott, who has not played in Baltimore in five years.
Tiny Taiwan pro Tsai made five birdies to be tied for second. "today, short game is pretty good," said Tsai. . "My putting also very good." She used 28 putts.
Amateur Angela Munno, who plays out of the University of Maryland course, shot 78. Patty Thompson of Cumberland, last year's Maryland Women's Amateur champ, shot 79. Defending champion Pat Meyers is back in the pack at 72.
A total of 43 players shot par or better in the field of 97. The crowd of 7,500 set a record for opening day here.