Date: August 01, 2008

Inkster follows Norman conquest

American Juli Inkster, at 48 the oldest player in the field, took a leaf out of Greg Norman&aposs book when the Ricoh Women&aposs British Open began at Sunningdale. On a day when Annika Sorenstam kicked off her last major before retirement with only a level par 72, Inkster overcame a tee-time of 6.52am to grab an eagle and five birdies for a seven-under 65. She led by one from a large group which included England&aposs Johanna Head. Katherine Hull is the leading Australian, just four shots behind Inkster at three-under, while Joanne Mills and Rachel Hetherington are a stroke further back after rounds of 70. Karrie Webb, a three-time winner of the Women&aposs British Open, carded an even-par 72 alongside Nikki Garrett, while Lindsey Wright was at two-over. Rookie Leah Hart had a day she&aposd rather forget, posting a seven-over 79. Victory on Sunday would make Inkster the oldest winner of a women&aposs major in history – and that, of course, only two weeks after 53-year-old Norman led at Birkdale with nine holes to play before slipping back to joint third. She played her first major 30 years ago and said: “I always thought I would play about five years, have a couple of kids and retire.” “I&aposm kind of unique. Golf is what I do. I have a family and I enjoy being home, but I also enjoy what I do.” “I don&apost think Annika could come out here and finish 15th or 12th on the money list and live with herself. I&aposm OK with that. Golf&aposs not the end of the world for me.” While Norman&aposs performance in The Open was a total surprise, Inkster&aposs was not. The mother of two, already with seven majors to her name, is still in the world&aposs top 20 and was unbeaten when America retained the Solheim Cup in Sweden last year. Highlight of her round was a drive to 18 feet on the 273-yard ninth to set up an eagle two. Defending champion and world No.1 Lorena Ochoa had a chance to match the Californian&aposs score when she stood five-under with four to go, but bogeys at the 16th and 17th meant she had to settle for a three-under 69. Sorenstam would happily have taken that, but it was never on from the moment she bogeyed three of the first six holes. “I&aposve never made as many bogeys as I have the last three months and it&aposs driving me crazy,” commented the 37-year-old Swede, who is calling time on her glittering career at the end of the season to pursue other interests and possibly start a family. “I was looking forward to a wonderful day and get some momentum going. It&aposs so disappointing when I can&apost post something low and I don&apost really know what to do – I can&apost seem to play 18 holes.” Head, whose twin sister Sam pulled out after five holes suffering from tonsilitis, was in joint second place with Inkster&aposs Solheim Cup team-mates Laura Diaz and Stacy Prammanasudh, Japan&aposs Yuri Fudoh and Momoko Ueda and Koreans Ji-Yai Shin Ji Young Oh. Sorenstam ended the day in a share of 66th place – and only the leading 65 and ties on Friday night go through to the final 36 holes. Round 1 from the Women’s British Open -7: Juli Inkster 65 -6: Yuri Fudoh 66, Momoko Ueda 66, Ji-Yai Shin 66, Johanna Head 66, Laura Diaz 66, Stacey Prammanasudh 66, Ji Young Oh 66 -5: Rebecca Hudson 67, Kristy McPherson 67, Karen Stupples 67, Sherri Steinhauer 67 -4: Paula Marti 68, Ji-Hee Lee 68, Minea Blomqvist 68, Eun Hee Ji 68, Shi Hyun Ahn 68, Ai Miyazato 68, Catriona Matthew 68, Bo Bae Song 68, Marianne Skarpnord 68 Also: -3: Katherine Hull (Australia) 69 -2: Joanne Mills (Australia) 70, Rachel Hetherington (Australia) 70 Par: Karrie Webb (Australia) 72, Nikki Garrett (Australia) 72 +2: Lindsey Wright (Australia) 74 +7:Leah Hart (Australia) 79