SUNNINGDALE, England - Former San Jose State women’s golfer Juli Inkster had an eagle and five birdies Thursday in a record-tying 7-under 65 to take the early lead at the Women's British Open.
Inkster, at 48 trying to become the oldest winner of a major title, was one of the earliest players out on the Sunningdale course and made the turn at 4-under 32, helped by an eagle at the par-4 ninth.
By the time the American walked off the 18th, Inkster was the leader, one shot ahead of Ji-Yai Shin, Yuri Fudoh and Momoko Ueda. Defending champion Lorena Ochoa bogeyed the 16th and 17th and finished at 2-under 69.
Inkster has won seven majors but none since the 2002 Women's U.S. Open, and now she is trying to fight off the rising young stars both from the United States and South Korea.
She said her game was so bad she thought about not traveling to Europe for last week's Evian Masters and the British Open but her teenage daughters, Hayley and Cori, persuaded her.
"I wasn't really quite sure I wanted to come and the reason I came is because my kids would kill me if I didn't," Inkster said. "I was playing so bad that it wasn't even fun."
Inkster shot three sub-70 rounds at the Evian Masters but faded to tie for ninth. But Thursday's 65 at Sunningdale tied the record for the opening round for the Women's British Open.
"Today I played really well," Inkster said. "I played aggressive when I needed to and I really only missed one green and that was on the par-3, 15th."
In her post-round comments, Inkster rejected the notion that winning a major is any different than winning a regular tournament.
"I just like to win," she said. "I feel better now than when I was in my 30s (and) I just want to be around on Sunday."
If she accomplishes the feat, she will have recorded a career Grand Slam, having won twice each at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open.
Two other former Spartans are playing in the tournament. Janice Moodie is one of 16 players tied at 22nd after shooting a three-under 69. Pat Hurst is in a group of 18 golfers who shot a two-over 74 to tied for 91st place.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press and UPI