Inkster's play frustrates her and du Maurier foes

After wild 69, co-leader eyes third major of '99

July 31, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PRIDDIS, Alberta -- Even when Juli Inkster is not at her very best, the results can be very good.

Struggling with her swing, yet managing to score on a difficult course, Inkster shared the lead with Dawn Coe-Jones of Canada after yesterday's second round of the du Maurier Classic. Inkster and Coe-Jones were at 7-under-par 137, one stroke ahead of Laura Davies of England and Catriona Matthew of Scotland.

Inkster shot a 3-under-par 69, including birdies on two of her last three holes, while Coe-Jones shot a blistering 65, the best round of the tournament so far at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club.

It could be a historic weekend for Inkster, who is trying to join Pat Bradley, Mickey Wright and Babe Zaharias as the only women to win three of the LPGA's four majors in one season. Among men, Ben Hogan accomplished it in 1953. Bradley was the last to do it, in 1986, and Inkster has already won this year's U.S. Women's Open and the LPGA Championship.

A victory this weekend would also earn Inkster a place in the LPGA Hall of Fame. A player needs 27 career points to reach the Hall of Fame, with two points awarded for winning a major, one point for non-majors and one point for the Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year Award. Inkster has 26 career points.

Yesterday, Inkster survived an up-and-down round, making six birdies to offset three bogeys. At times, it wasn't pretty, but at the end of the day, it was effective.

"I was struggling with my swing out there," said Inkster, who has won five majors, including the 1984 du Maurier when she was a rookie. "Hopefully, this is my toughest day, and I can get a little more consistent with my swing. I'm really proud of the way I scored. My short game bailed me out."

Lorie Kane, Canada's best hope and a hero-in-waiting should she win, got off to another slow start but still managed a 72 and was at 142 along with Beth Daniel, Cristie Kerr and Charlotta Sorenstam.

First-round leaders Rosie Jones and Patti Rizzo dealt with deteriorating weather and fell off the pace -- Jones birdied her last to salvage a 74 and was at 3-under 141, while Rizzo had a 76 and was seven strokes out of the lead.

Five-time winner Karrie Webb still hasn't broken par at Priddis Greens. She had a 72 and was eight strokes behind at 145. Se Ri Pak and Dinah Shore champion Dottie Pepper were at 146. Kelli Kuehe and Helen Alfredsson were among those who missed the cut.

Inkster and Coe-Jones teed off in the morning, as did Davies (66), and they finished before the weather changed. It was the best round of the year for Coe-Jones, who has just one top-10 finish this year. When Coe-Jones walked into the media room to be interviewed, she felt like a stranger.

"I haven't been in here for about three years," joked Coe-Jones, who has not won on the tour since 1995. "I come in here to get magazines."

But this week has been a homecoming for Coe-Jones, who was born in British Columbia, and she was followed by an enthusiastic gallery that watched her make seven birdies during a bogey-free round.

Teeing off on the 10th hole, Coe-Jones had her best stretch during the middle or her round, when she birdied No. 17, No. 18, No. 2 and No. 3. Three of those birdies came on putts of 15 feet or more. She took only 26 putts and was never really in jeopardy of making bogey.

"It was a day I've been waiting for all year," she said.

While Coe-Jones enjoyed her stretch of success, Inkster hoped to ride her momentum to a historic victory. And with 36 holes to play, she liked her chances.

That has Davies concerned.

"Her confidence level couldn't be higher," Davies said. "I know when my confidence is high, you feel invincible. I'm sure she thinks she will win this week. And the way she has started, I have every reason to believe that."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 7/31/99

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