Yesterday Betsy King did something she had never done on a golf course before. She didn't make a par on her opening nine holes. The gifted golfer still shot 73 and, as always it seems, remained in contention to win another tournament. She stands at 3-over-par 145 after two rounds.

"I don't think I've ever done it, played nine holes without a par," said King, 34, who was 1989 player of the year after earning a record $654,132. She already has won two major championships this season, the Dinah Shore and the U.S. Open.

On her opening nine yesterday, King sank three long putts and made four birdies and five bogeys for 36. She concluded her round by chipping up 10 feet from the 18th hole and sinking the putt for par.

King is the Terminator of women's golf. No matter how far back she is in a tournament -- she made up 11 strokes on the 36-hole final day to recently win her second straight Open -- she'll likely be around at the end.

She has never won the LPGA Championship, the only void on her glittering resume' of 22 victories and almost $3 million in earnings.

But she said she needs an "overnight miracle" to change around her game, which has been erratic. "I certainly would like to win this. There's still a shot but I have to play better than I've been playing. I'm hitting the ball about the worst I've hit it all year. I hit about three good shots out there today," King said. "I hit it right and left. It's definitely been humbling me. Obviously it's frustrating. I said to Judy Dickinson {her playing partner} I'm hitting it so bad, it would be fun to play this course and be playing well."

King did not putt well the first two rounds of the recent U.S. Open, but came from way back to grab victory from Patty Sheehan for the second straight year. She said she was going to practice hard later yesterday in search of a swing. If she finds a groove, the rest of the field may be in trouble. Putting was not the problem yesterday.

"I made a ton of putts," she said. They included birdie putts of 40 feet at the seventh hole and 30 feet at the fourth and ninth.

Whether hitting long drives with her metal wood, striking one of those impossible long sand shots close to the hole or sinking a long putt, the poker-faced Pennsylvanian seems to be the only one standing in the end. Her mechanical on-course demeanor is sometimes misunderstood as aloofness.

"Because she doesn't show her emotions, she gets a bad rap," said friend Michelle Blum, who went to Exeter prep school in Reading, Pa., four years after King played basketball, field hockey and softball there. King now lives in Phoenix. "Good or bad, she stays calm. She's well-liked, well-respected. She does charity work and gives a lot back. She's a great person. She's really nice, low-key. She would do anything for you."

Fellow pro Tina Barrett said King's all-business demeanor is intensity showing through: "There's a big difference between being a hard woman and being intense in what you do."