HERSHEY, Pa. -- When it comes to consistency at a high level on the LPGA Tour, perhaps none is better than Colleen Walker.
A 10-year pro, she came of age in her fifth year, and has been among the tour stars ever since. Rounds in the 60s (she currently ranks first with 13), rounds under par, and top-10 finishes are her specialty.
Walker is part of the best Lady Keystone Open field in the event's 17-year history. First-round play for the 144 players begins this morning at Hershey Country Club.
Eight of the top 10 and 13 of the top 17 money-winners are here, along with 11 tournament winners from this season, and eight former LKO champions, including defender Cathy Gerring.
Always a demanding layout, the West Course has become a thinking player's course as the result of some changes. Four new greens on the back nine will present slightly different surfaces.
"The key here is still keeping the tee shots in play, but the greens are faster than we have ever seen them," Walker said yesterday. "We're used to hitting firm putts, but if you hit them that way now, the ball may go 10 or 12 feet past the hole."
Walker has been in position to win several times this year, most notably at the Rochester (N.Y.) International, but hasn't been able to finish off any of them. The best was a tie for third at the Corning (N.Y.) Classic, although she led by two going to the last round at Rochester two weeks ago, then bogeyed two of her first three holes and wound up with a 74.
"You don't think about the winning. When it's my turn, I'll be ready. I've been there before [three tour wins]. If I thought about all the chances I had had to win, I'd slash my wrists."
Facts and figures
What: Lady Keystone Open
Where: Hershey CC -- West Course
When: Today through Sunday
Purse: $400,000 (first place, $60,000)
Format: Single 18-hole rounds each day. Cut to the low 70 and ties after two rounds.
Leading entries: Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Jane Geddes, Betsy King, Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster
Directions: Interstate 83 north to Harrisburg, then go east on Route 322 to Hershey. Follow signs for Route 39 and Hersheypark. Past the park, go to dead end and turn right (Route 743) for 200 yards, turn left and follow signs for parking. (Approximate driving time: 90 minutes).