OAKMONT PENNSYLVANIA — OAKMONT, Pa. -- The focus will be on good friends Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster, two of the LPGA's leading lights who have never won a U.S. Women's Open, when the 47th championship concludes today at Oakmont Country Club.
As has been the case in five of the past seven years, "weather permitting" goes on the end of that. Forecasters are calling for severe thunderstorms.
Each had to come out at 7:30 a.m. to complete a second round. Inkster knocked in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 17th to finish 68140. Sheehan parred her last four holes for 72141.
Playing together in the final threesome with second-round leader Pam Wright (69139 to equal the low 36-hole record), Sheehan had three birdies and two bogeys for 70211, and Inkster had one birdie and one bogey for 71211.
Wright slipped away with 75215, and a tie with Michelle McGann, whose third-round 70 shared low with Sheehan and Tammie Green (218).
In between, at 214, are Gail Graham (71), Donna Andrews (72) and Dawn Coe (72).
Although there are quite a few parallels for the co-leaders (San Jose State, fine amateur careers, including Curtis Cup selection), they are Open contrasts.
Where three-time U.S. Women's Amateur titlist Inkster, 32, has played 12 times, the past eight as a pro, her only real chance was in 1988 at Baltimore CC, where she opened 71-68 to tie Dottie Mochrie and eventual winner Liselotte Neumann, then fell to a tie for eighth on 75-72.
Sheehan, 35, on the other hand, with 16 Opens, 12 as a pro, has been second two of the past five years, and has had a pair of notable, and well-documented, collapses. She was tied with Betsy King for the third-round lead in 1989 at Indianwood CC, then shot 79 to tie for 17th; and in 1990 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, where she led by seven with nine holes to play and lost to King by a stroke.
"I'm trying to make it easy on myself; do the same things I have all week, and keep my emotions out of it," Sheehan said. "I'm playing well, and I want to stay away from thinking about $H winning. In the past, I have put way too much pressure on myself."
Of her third round, Inkster, coming off a win at the JAL Classic in New Rochelle, N.Y., last week, said: "I didn't make anything happen. Still, that morning birdie putt gave me confidence for the afternoon and I hung in there. I didn't get flustered, and I started playing better on the back [nine].
"I didn't get caught up in the excitement, but just tried to stay patient. In an Open, each day gets tougher. This time -- with the tees back, conditions still wet, and the pins back -- the course played longer than it had before.
"And, so many things are going to happen, you need to be confident about your game -- and you need a little luck, too."
NOTES: Baltimorean Tina Barrett, who admitted to just scraping it around in the afternoon, shot 75223. She had faced a 25-foot downhill putt to start her day at 7:30 a.m., and it just stayed out. She finished bogey-birdie-bogey for a second-round 75. Things did not get much better in her third tour. . . . After 42 players completed their second rounds in the morning, the cut fell at 151, and 66 players continued in the afternoon. . . . Among the casualties was three-time champion Hollis Stacy, who came out at 7:30 a.m. and started at No. 18 with a shot from a fairway bunker that she could only pitch out. It led to a double-bogey and she missed by two. . . . Because of the weather-related suspensions of play, the total time to play round No. 1 was 28 hours, 30 minutes, and round No. 2, 26 hours, 32 minutes.