BETHESDA -- Donna Andrews is in the kind of zone professional golfers love to think about.
Two weeks ago, there was a final-round 68 and a tie for ninth in the Centel Classic. It won her $23,550 -- up to then the best check of her three-year pro career.
Last week, Andrews almost doubled that. The former Lynchburg, Va., resident, cheered on by family and friends at the Crestar-Farm Fresh Tournament in Chesapeake, Va., finished second, two shots behind Jennifer Wyatt, and won $39,564.
And in yesterday's opening round of the Mazda LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club, Andrews shot a 3-under 68 to help create a four-way tie for the lead.
Andrews' round included a birdie and a bogey on the front nine, and three birdies on the back nine, the longest from 27 feet at the par-3 11th. She also got up and down for par three times on the back nine.
"My round wasn't as good as last week [when a second-round 67 vaulted her into contention], but I got the putts to drop," she said.
"This is the first course we have played over the last few weeks where there is rough. The key is to keep it in the fairway."
Andrews, 25, has shown steady improvement since turning pro following her graduation from the University of North Carolina in 1989. Her amateur career included two women's North and South titles and five Virginia State Women's Amateur crowns.
* Baltimore native Tina Barrett was 2-under after 10 holes, then stumbled to a 2-over 73.
"The driver killed me," Barrett said. "I had been really consistent all year, then I come in here and go wacko."
Barrett had only one par in the last eight holes. She had four bogeys in five holes, then two birdies in a row to get to even after 17. On the par-4 18th, Barrett took four strokes to reach the back collar of the green. From there she chipped halfway to the hole, then made a a 15-foot putt for a double-bogey.
* Deborah McHaffie, last year's first-round leader with a 66, was on the outside looking in this time.
McHaffie, 86th on the money list with $20,000, stood by as the first alternate during the opening round. It wasn't as though she wished anyone any bad luck, but if one of the starters had failed to appear, she would have been delighted.
As it turned out, all 144 players showed up on time, and McHaffie failed to get into the field.
* Hollis Stacy opened with a 2-under-par 69 for the second straight year, but the three-time U.S. Women's Open champion hopes things go better this time. A year ago, she went 75-73-71--288, and a tie for 26th. . . . Their closing holes were not kind to Jan Stephenson and Pat Bradley. Stephenson, playing the ninth hole as her last one, dropped out of a tie for the lead when she came out of a bunker to 20 feet and needed two putts for bogey and a 69. Bradley, working the back nine, bogeyed two of the last three holes for 70. . . Defending champion Meg Mallon had 72, and he tour's leading money-winner, Danielle Ammaccapane, shot 75. . . . Paula Wagasky, a two-time Middle Atlantic Women's Amateur champion when she lived in Odenton, and now a teaching professional in Buffalo Grove, Ill., could only call her 17-over 88, by five strokes the day's highest score, "brutal."