Inkster vents, then goes on birdie binge

Updated: June 29, 2002, 9:16 PM ET
Associated Press

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Patience put Annika Sorenstam in position to do what seemingly does every week on the LPGA tour -- win.

All she has to do now is catch Juli Inkster, whose temper put her on top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Saturday.

Inkster birdied five of the last six holes after a blowup on the 13th tee and took a one-shot edge over first-round leader Kate Golden heading into the final round Sunday.

''Patience is really not one of my best things and I was getting very impatient out there,'' said Inkster, who has a three-shot cushion over Sorenstam. ''I finished well which helps.''

The image everyone will remember is Inkster spiking her wedge near the 13th tee box after hitting her shot on the par-3 to 15 feet.

As she walked toward the green, her caddie, Greg Johnston, had to go back to fetch the club.

''I wasn't going to go back and get it,'' said Inkster who was really annoyed after missing a 3-footer for par on the previous hole. It was just one of a number of putts that didn't fall in the round.

''Sometimes I just need to vent my frustrations,'' Inkster said. ''I usually do something and get it over with and I get going.''

Planting the club obviously helped.

Inkster sank the 15-footer. After a par at the 14th hole, Inkster rolled in birdies of 12, 5, 4 and 3 feet for finish the 36 holes on the Bay Course of the Marriott Seaview Resort at 10-under-par 132.

Golden finished at 9-under par after blowing the lead with a double-bogey at No. 17. Pat Hurst was two shots back after a 65 and Sorenstam was in a threesome at 7-under after a 4-under 67.

Unlike Inkster, the round was a tribute to Sorenstam's patience. After missing more than a half-dozen birdie putts on the first eight holes, she got going with a 10-footer at No. 9. She played the back nine in 3-under.

''You know eventually with every putt hitting the lip, it cannot hit the lip every time,'' said Sorenstam, who has won five times in 11 LPGA events this year. ''It has to go in.''

Sunday now shapes up to be a fun day in this final tuneup for the U.S. Women's Open. Inkster, a Hall of Famer with a victory and six top-10 finishes this year, is in the final group with Golden. Sorenstam and Hurst are in the next-to-last group.

''I always want to be in contention on Sunday, to be in the last three groups,'' Sorenstam said. ''I have a good feeling for it. This is where I want to be.''

Inkster doesn't mind the company.

''I can't control what she does,'' Inkster said. ''She probably feels she is right there. I have to play my own game and make birdies.''

Golden, who had a four-shot lead early in the second round, got in trouble at the 337-yard, par-4 No. 17.

The wind seemed to shift on her second shot and her ball landed in a mound of dirt. She advanced her third shot only a few feet and blew a chip about 20 feet past the hole, settling for a double-bogey.

''I was swinging well today but the ones I missed really cost me,'' said Golden, whose only career victory came last year when she shot a final-round 63 to beat Sorenstam.

''She owes me one,'' Sorenstam quipped.

Hurst, who has struggled with her swing this season, had seven birdies and one bogey in shooting a 65 on a course she loves. She had a career-best 63 in the first round last year.

''Once I get back to hitting the ball the way I know how to hit it, my game will come around,'' said Hurst, who had her second child in January.

Dottie Pepper shot her second consecutive 75 and missed the cut in her first tournament of the season. She had surgery on her left shoulder in March.

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press