Inkster, Graham shoot 67s, lead Women's Open qualifying


CHEVY CHASE -- Two LPGA regulars, Juli Inkster, fresh from a ninth-place finish in the LPGA Championship at nearby Bethesda Country Club on Sunday, and Gail Graham, shot 4-under-par 67s to tie for the medal in U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifying at Columbia CC yesterday.

Two shots back at 69 was amateur Arantxa Sison, an Oklahoma State student from Arlington, Va.

Inkster, forced to qualify for the Open for the first time in 12 years, hit 16 greens and ended with five birdies on putts up to 30 feet, and a three-putt bogey. At the 321-yard seventh, she hit an 82-yard sand wedge shot that stopped 6 inches from the cup for one of her birdies. "The easiest 67 I ever shot," she said. "I was never close to a bogey except for the three-putt."

Graham, a second-year tour player from British Columbia, had an eagle and four birdies, and said she had shown steady improvement for all but the McDonald's Classic in Wilmington, Del., during the past six weeks.

Sison, 19, who plays from Glenn Dale GC, and who was injured during her freshman year in college and has four years of eligibility left, said she had been playing Columbia often since she was 12 and prepared totally for this event. Her round included an eagle, two birdies, a par, a bogey, and a double-bogey, all in a six-hole stretch on the front nine before settling down to play solidly on the back nine.

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