Shrugging off wilting heat and pesky insects, Giulia Sergas and Denise Killeen fired 6-under-par 65s yesterday to share the first-round lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway Township, N.J.
Killeen, 42, of Marietta, Ga., opened with six consecutive pars before posting an eagle-3 on the 481-yard 16th hole and adding four birdies.
"That just kind of jump-started everything," she said.
After that, she used precision iron play to set up short putts for birdies on Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 9, getting a good start on her goal of 18 birdies for the tournament.
She did so while fighting humid, 87-degree heat and the biting greenhead flies that sometimes make life miserable on the Seaview Marriott Resort course, which sits next to a salt marsh.
"If I could get through 18 holes without getting bitten by those bugs, I'd be happy," Killeen said.
"They're just little devils with wings," said Cristie Kerr, who was one shot back at 5 under.
Sergas, 24, of Trieste, Italy, started well and stayed that way, drilling a 20-foot putt for birdie on her first hole and adding three consecutive birdies to overtake Kerr, already in the clubhouse.
But she knows it will take more to win.
"Of course, I'm really excited about it. But I know this game. I didn't do anything yet. This is just the start," Sergas said.
Sergas, who posted three consecutive birdies on her back nine, has never won an LPGA event. Her best finish was 22nd place.
Five players -- Brandie Burton, Dawn Coe-Jones, Johanna Head, Kristal Parker-Manzo and Gloria Park -- were all at 4 under after the opening round of the 54-hole event.
* QUALIFYING: Michelle Wie shot a 2-under 142 at the U.S. Men's Public Amateur Links qualifying in Hershey, Pa., all but ending her chance to qualify for the 2005 Masters through the Publinx tournaments.
The only female in the field, the 14-year-old Wie finished two strokes behind winners David Bradshaw and Alex Knoll.