So much for making the course tougher. Former LPGA rookie of the year Se Ri Pak fired a tournament-record 63, Trish Johnson was a stroke back and Hall of Famer Betsy King carded a record-low 29 on the back nine yesterday in Absecon, N.J.
Welcome to the ShopRite LPGA Classic, which had its rough made rougher and its greens widened in response to the scorching 17-under-par score posted by winner Annika Sorenstam last year.
The idea was to make the Seaview Marriott Resort course tougher. But someone forgot to tell the players. Pak, who won four tournaments last year but has yet to win in 1999, was 8 under par on the 6,051-yard course, posting 10 birdies on the strength of consistent putting and solid course play. She said she hoped to win so she could give the trophy to her mentor-father, Joon Chul Pak, for Father's Day. "That's my goal this week," Pak said.
Johnson, looking for her first tour victory in three years, shot a 7-under-par 64. Juli Inkster, winner of the U.S. Open two weeks ago, was at 66. Defending champion Sorenstam struggled on the greens en route to a 1-over 72.
SENIORS: David Graham and Walter Hall shot 6-under 66s and shared the first-round lead at the $1.1 million Dominion tournament in San Antonio. Graham, the 1997 champion, had four birdies and an eagle, while Hall had six birdies at the 6,835-yard course at the Dominion Country Club.