HERSHEY, Pa. -- It was like old times yesterday for Nancy Lopez -- attracting the largest gallery, tying for the low round of the day and surging into the lead.
The Hall of Fame member birdied her last hole in the third round of the Lady Keystone Open to complete a 5-under-par 67. That moved her to 7-under at 137, followed by Hollis Stacy, 67138, and Danielle Ammaccapane, who bogeyed her last hole for 71-139.
A surprise challenger was nine-year veteran Lori West, a non-winner who had made six cuts with a best finish of tie for 27th and a 74.1 stroke average. She posted 69-71 -- 140 to be three off the lead. For the Maryland contingent, Tina Barrett had three birdies in a par-matching round of 72 for 145; Michelle Mackall had 71-143; Kim Williams, 72-148; and Joan Joyce, 79-162.
Lopez always has had a special relationship with this tournament, dating to 1978 when her streak of successive wins ended at five. Pat Bradley won that one, the first LKO held at Hershey CC after two Harrisburg stops. It was mostly a media circus for Lopez.
She returned the next year to win with a 4-under-par 212, a tournament record for the highest score by a winner on this golf course.
All three pacesetters were stopped by darkness Friday after two rain delays and had to return early yesterday to complete their rounds. Lopez had three left (one birdie), Stacy four left (even) and Ammaccapane three left (even).
A half-hour after finishing, they were back to the tee for a second round. After an 8:30 finish Friday evening, and a 7:30 a.m. start yesterday, it made for a short night. "And it was hard for me to calm down, too," Lopez said.
"The course played longer the second time because the wind was a factor, as opposed to the calm of the first round. I think experience was a factor in this situation.
"I felt a lot of old feelings out there, too; starting to play the way I did in the past," added Lopez, winner of 44 LPGA events. "I felt good over shots, more confident over the putts."
For the round, she used 31 putts, and ended with an eagle, four birdies and a 40-foot, three-putt bogey. She eagled the 362-yard 14th, holing a 125-yard, 9-iron shot.
Stacy, at 38 three years older than Lopez and with three U.S. Open titles (one honor that has escaped Lopez), has had a solid 13 months, going back to a Crestar victory in Portsmouth, Va., last year.
"I was just trying to get in at 1- or 2-under for that first round, and when I finished 1-under, I think it set me up for the second round," she said. "I've been on the verge of playing well -- on the road to scoring well, but not making any putts. At the fourth, I hit an 8-iron six feet and made the point. That was the turning point."
She rolled in a 25-footer at the fifth and a 10-footer at the sixth to reach 3-under, then had birdie putts of 15 and 20 feet (twice) on her incoming side.
Ammaccapane either owned or shared the lead once she got to 6-under, then fell out of the tie when she could not save par from a bunker at No. 18, a seven-foot putt sliding by the cup.
It promises to be an aggressive final round for the top three contenders. "I want to see what it feels like to be on top again," Lopez said. "It's exciting. I'm looking forward to playing well -- and the way our fields are now, you have to play well the last day to win."