Pain forces Lopez to back out early

May 13, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Nancy Lopez became an early casualty in the LPGA Championship yesterday when severe lower back pain forced her to retire after 14 holes of the first round at the Du Pont Country Club.

Later, after receiving treatment in the tour's fitness trailer, she said, "I've been hitting a lot of balls lately and while the pain could be any number of things, I think it's probably fatigue from practicing so much.

"Yesterday [Wednesday], I had a big pain in my back and was hurting really bad after hitting balls. I came in and they worked on it.

"During the round, I didn't realize how many times we have to kneel down out here. It felt as though I was bending over all day . . . and it hurt."

She was 6-over par when she quit.

"It's disappointing, but I wanted to be sure I'd be able to finish the year," she said. "I was worried I would irritate it more. I'm going to see a doctor [today]."

Tania Abitbol and Sandra Palmer also withdrew, and Anne-Marie Palli was disqualified after practicing during the rain delay before the field had been given clearance to do so.

Barrett on upswing

Baltimore's Tina Barrett, who missed the cut in five of her first six tournaments -- she missed only four cuts in 25 starts a year ago -- has come along with two top-20 finishes the past two

weeks.

"Those two tournaments, I started to hit the ball better, but it still isn't solid," she said after an opening-round 2-over-par 73. She went 3-over par on the first six holes, then get two back with 15-foot birdies over the final nine holes. She narrowly missed two others.

"I need to get my nerves in check sooner, because I've gotten off to some bad starts, such as 2-over, 3-over, and then this one.

Underdog Inkster

Juli Inkster believes she is in the best position this week, because nobody expects her to win, or even play well.

This is the first event of the season for Inkster, who gave birth to her second child March 25. She started hitting balls three weeks ago, and chose this week to come back.

The Californian finished at 2-under-par 69, tied with Noelle Daghe and one stroke off the lead. She had two birdies on the back nine and got to 3-under when she rolled in a 20-foot putt at No. 4. A missed green at the par-3 fifth led to her only bogey.

"Going in, I had no expectations, but my concentration was really good," she said of her first competitive round since finishing second in San Diego last September. "The layoff helped. Now, I'm rejuvenated and I'm excited. Now I want to practice and I want to play."

Miscellaneous

Patty Sheehan, last year's LPGA champion at Bethesda Country Club, had five birdies, six bogeys, and shot 72. . . . Troy Beck, the assistant professional at Glenn Dale GC, here via her victory in the Northeast section of the Teacher's Division last fall, had 79, and Kim Williams, in the next-to-last group finishing on No. 9, had an 80, including a four-putt and a three-putt. . . . Play was suspended with the last group in the ninth fairway, and will be completed this morning.

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