FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Annika Sorenstam shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday in her U.S. Senior Women’s Open debut for a share of the lead in the rain-suspended first round.
The 50-year-old Sorenstam, a three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion in her Hall of Fame career, had six birdies and a bogey at Brooklawn Country Club.
“I love the golf course,” Sorenstam said. “I was very happy how I played today. This course can be quite tricky around the greens. I realize I had a few slippery ones, but it was nice to finish on a high note.”
Dana Ebster offset a double bogey on the par-5 seventh with an eagle on the par-5 11th — holing a 115-yard shot with a 9-iron — to join Sorenstam atop the leaderboard. The 51-year-old Ebster is a part-time golf instructor and assistant coach at Modesto Junior College in California.
“I’m so thankful for my club back home, Turlock Golf and Country Club,” Ebster said. “They raised money for me to get here. I’m just the little club pro who came out, and so I’m super-excited.”
All of the afternoon starters in the 120-player field were unable to finish. Play was stopped because of rain at 3:53 p.m. and suspended for the day at 5:15 p.m. About an inch of rain fell.
Kris Tschetter was third at 69, and Liselotte Neumann shot 70. Laura Davies was 71 with Rosie Jones, Catriona Matthew and amateur Ellen Port.
Sorenstam played alongside Neumann and Davies.
“I actually asked Liselotte, when did we play last? We said maybe 15 years plus or something,” Sorenstam said. “So it’s been a long time. It was nice. I loved the pairing. It brings back some great memories. That’s what I think this week is about.”
Juli Inkster opened with a 73.
JoAnne Carner, 82, shot her age for the second time in the event, becoming the oldest player in USGA history to accomplish the feat.
“I had some back spasms out there and could not do what I wanted to do,” Carner said. “I think I only missed like four greens. I three-putted a lot, and if I missed a green — well, I made two doubles missing the green.”
Carner also became the oldest player to compete in a USGA championship, topping Harold “Jug” McSpaden, who was 81 when he played in the 1990 U.S. Senior Open.