After shooting her lowest score ever in competition, Holly Hebditch wanted to give credit to everybody but herself. But she shared responsibility for earning medalist honors at the U.S. women's amateur qualifier at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase yesterday.

Hebditch pointed to her caddie and her coach as the reasons for finishing at 3-over-par 73 in the 18-hole qualifier. The 42-year-old from Pittsburgh was one of three from the field of 22 who advanced to the 99th U.S. women's amateur championship, which begins Aug. 9 at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, N.C.

This will be her first experience playing in the U.S. women's amateur.

Kristen Pepe, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Kentucky, shot a 74 and is also a first-time qualifier.

Bonnie George, a 55-year-old from Huntingdon Valley, Pa., won the first hole of a two-way playoff for the final spot. George, who also qualified in 1992, tied with Amy Ellerton of Free Union, Va., with a 77.

"Between my caddie [Leon "Cap" Awark of Columbia] and Rick [Martino, a PGA professional], it's just like I'm not even there," Hebditch said. "Cap was dynamite. He was very beneficial. . . . I credit my whole game to [Martino]."

Hebditch carded a birdie and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at even par. After making a nice par save on No. 12, she hit a snag on the par-3 No. 13 and took a double bogey. She also bogeyed the next hole, but went on to make pars the remainder of her round.

"I was so relieved [to make par] and you forget what you're doing," Hebditch said.

Pepe was at 1-under after 10 holes, which nearly caused her to collapse with a case of nerves. The sudden realization that she just might qualify for the U.S. women's amateur led to bogeys on Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and a double bogey at No. 16.

"The women I was playing with were really nice," Pepe said. "They said, 'I'll bet she's the one that's going to win.' At that thought, I was just so excited. The U.S. Am. That's your goal, to get there."