GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Kate Golden parlayed a midweek swing change into a 7-under-par 64 and had a one-stroke lead Friday after the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and Lorie Kane were tied for second in the final tuneup for next weekend's U.S. Women's Open. They were a shot ahead of non-winner Tracy Hanson and two in front of a group that includes two-time winner Michele Redman.
Annika Sorenstam, seeking her fourth win in six events and sixth in 12 this year, is well within striking distance after 68 on the par-71 Bay Course of the Marriott Seaview Resort.
Defending champion and three-time winner Betsy King also was at 68 in this 54-hole event not far from Atlantic City's casinos. Among the other notables, Rosie Jones had a 69 and Dottie Pepper finished with a 75 in her return to the tour following shoulder surgery in March.
Golden's round of eight birdies and a bogey was her best of a poor season in which she has missed four cuts. Her best finish has been a tie for 24th place two weeks ago in the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
After missing the cut last week in Rochester, N.Y., Golden went to work on her game here on Wednesday on the practice range. She put clubs on the ground to straighten out her stance and to prevent her from coming over the top with her club.
"It was uncomfortable for 20 swings," said Golden, whose only career victory since joining the tour came last year when she shot a final-round 63 to beat Sorenstam at the State Farm Classic. "Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't."
It did on Friday.
Golden, who left the tour in frustration in 1994-95, rolled in three birdie putts of 20 feet on her first seven holes to get going. Her others birdies were all less than 8 feet. Her only bogey was a three-putt from 20 feet.
Inkster, who has a win and six top-10 finishes this year, threatened to take the lead, playing the front nine in 6-under par 30. But she parred the final nine holes, making good saving putts at Nos. 16 and 17.
Sorenstam challenged early with birdies on three of her first six holes. However, the tour's leading money winner bogeyed the par-4 10th, but got the stroke back with a short birdie at No. 17.
"I can't control what she is doing," Inkster said of Sorenstam. "I know she is going to be there come Sunday. I just have to go out and play my game. She is liable to roll in six in a row. I just have to play my game. If I keep making birdies, I have a good chance."
Kane, who has struggled finding her swing after a fitness program that included some weight work, had six birdies; three from 15 feet, two kick-ins and 10-footer.
"My legs have been moving faster than my arms and it messed up my timing," Kane said. "That is what my game is built on, timing."
Hanson, who missed her fourth cut of the season last week, had five birdies in posting a 66 on a course made easier by overnight rain and no wind. Joining Redman at 67 were Johanna Head, Jenny Lidback, Stephanie Keever and Julie Piers.
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