Penny Hammel, her game steady despite swirling wind and rain in the afternoon, shot a 3-under-par 69 Thursday to share the opening-day lead in the Nabisco Dinah Shore at Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Muffin Spencer-Devlin and Nanci Bowen, who teed off in the early morning, also shot 69s, getting in much of their round before the weather turned bad.
Five players were in a group two shots off the lead with first-round 71s in the tournament, the first of the LPGA’s majors in 1995.
Only eight players managed sub-par rounds on the first day of play at Mission Hills Country Club.
Among those struggling were defending champion Donna Andrews, who shot a 76; Beth Daniel, with a 77; last week’s winner at Phoenix, Laura Davies, with a 75, and Nancy Lopez, with a 74.
“It was really tough out there, a guessing game,” said Hammel, who began her round at noon. “When I teed off, I thought 75 would be a good score. So I was very pleased to shoot under par.”
Hammel dropped a shot behind Spencer-Devlin and Bowen, who had finished hours earlier, when she bogeyed No. 15. But Hammel hit her approach shot within 4 feet of the pin on No. 18 and made her birdie putt on the par-5, 526-yard hole that played considerably longer because of the wind.
Corey Pavin tamed the The Players Championship course at Sawgrass with a near-perfect effort on the greens, one-putting 11 times for a 6-under 66 during the blustery opening round at Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Pavin, who birdied three of the last four holes, has a one-stroke lead over Gene Sauers. Bernhard Langer of Germany, Payne Stewart, Larry Mize, Steve Stricker and Lee Janzen are three shots back.
Defending champion Greg Norman, who took the course apart last year with a 24-under effort, finished at 70, four strokes back with Andrew Magee.
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