Geddes clicks in LPGA 1st round

Web entrepreneur, tour veteran shoots 66

June 23, 2000|By Sam Borden | Sam Borden,SUN STAFF

WILMINGTON, Del. - Memories are touchy subjects for Jane Geddes. It's difficult for her to remember exactly the feelings that came with winning two major tournaments so early in her career, especially as five years becomes 10 and then 14. But for the 17-season veteran, time isn't the biggest obstacle in recalling those stirring moments on the golf course - rather, the 41-year old has other business on her mind.

E-business, that is. So while her 5-under-par 66 yesterday (including a hole in one on the 17th) was good enough to put her atop the first-round leader board of the McDonald's LPGA Championship, Geddes spent much of her time afterward explaining what she was doing off the course these days.

As founder of an Internet start-up company that aims to streamline Web shopping, Geddes hasn't had much time to practice or play this year. As she said, "The dirt on my clubs this week was from Myrtle Beach" - a tour event played three weeks ago.

"I started off the year with this great outlook that I was going to be able to do both things, and I was," said Geddes, who often spends 70 to 80 hours a week working on www.planesia.com. "I started out playing really well, but then it started getting tough, and as things started getting busier with the company and the worse I played out here, the more ... I was like, `I'm wasting my time out here.' It starts this boat-rocking, which is terrible."

Yesterday at DuPont Country Club though, Geddes' ship barely wavered. She started on the back nine and was 1-under when she came to the 156-yard 17th hole. She pulled a 6-iron, and, in language she might use, logged on to www.ace.com.

"I got off to kind of a little funny start," said Geddes, who won the 1986 U.S. Women's Open and the 1987 LPGA Championship. "I was nervous. I came here with the goal in mind to have fun and enjoy this week. Then, after three holes today, [caddie Dan Saleb] said to me, `Why are you so serious?' And then I proceeded to birdie the next hole, and a few holes later I had a hole in one."

Geddes wasn't the only veteran to come through a somewhat wet and windy day with a good score. She holds a two-shot lead over 31-time tour winner Pat Bradley and 33-time victor Besty King, as well as Tracy Hanson and Gloria Park. Six-time major winner Patty Sheehan is at 69

"Obviously, when you've played [the course] a lot, you kind of remember the breaks and where to hit the ball," said King, who has won two tour events this year. "I played with Beth [Daniel] and Patty, and by the time they got through announcing [the threesome], as we walked off the first tee, Beth goes, `We won 100 tournaments among the three of us.' I think we might have won the category of the day as a group."

The two hottest players on tour, top-ranked Karrie Webb and last week's winner Annika Sorenstam, struggled to find a groove. Sorenstam birdied the first hole, then made 11 straight pars before finishing with a 1-under 70. Webb, who won the year's first major, The Nabisco Championship, by 10 shots, bogeyed her first hole en route to a 1-over 72.

"I didn't play a very good round, and I didn't feel at all comfortable out there," said Webb, who earlier this week questioned why she has struggled in the opening rounds at this event. Although she has finished in the top 10 twice here, both came after late-weekend charges.

So while Webb searches for solutions to her early-round curse, Geddes will hope that she hasn't forgotten how to lead a tournament. Her Web site's slogan is "Plan your amnesia," but in this case, a little bit of remembering might not be so bad.

"I try to pull up those feelings all the time," she said of those two fantastic weeks more than a decade ago. "Those are the times you remember the most, and those are the times that were greatest in my career. I was reflecting back [yesterday], thinking it's been a long, long time since I've been in that position. So enjoy it."

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