Burton surges to Keystone lead Barrett, two others 1 back after late run


HERSHEY, Pa. -- Brandie Burton and Tina Barrett collected back-nine birdies, an eagle set up Julie Larsen's round, and Jennifer Myers was consistent as they took charge of the first round of the Lady Keystone Open yesterday.

Burton, 21, a third-year pro, surged to the front with four birdies in seven holes, then saved par at No. 18 for a 4-under-par 68 and a one-shot lead over the other three at Hershey Country Club.

Barrett, from Sparrows Point Country Club, fashioned 12 successive pars before breaking out of the pack with birdies at the 13th, 15th and 16th holes for a 69.

Larsen, who got to 4-under, fell out of a tie for the lead with a bogey at the ninth, her final hole.

Myers, 25, from Lancaster, Pa., and a three-year mini-tour player in her first LPGA tournament (sponsor's exemption), got to 3-under with a birdie at the third hole, then parred her last six. She hit 17 greens, getting four birdies and a bogey.

"I feel great. I finally made some putts," Burton said of her morning round of 69. "The putter has felt good, and there is a good rhythm in my stroke.

"Putting, more or less, has stopped me from winning this year," she added.

Her season has produced two thirds, a fourth, and only one event (out of 10) where she was worse than a tie for 26th.

At the 400-yard 18th, she found trees on the right, eventually got a 7-iron shot to eight feet, and made the putt for what she called, "one of my best all-time saves."

Barrett -- she and Betsy King (70) were the only players in the field with no bogeys -- started what turned out to be her best opening round of the season (by a stroke) by missing birdie putts inside of 10 feet at the first two holes, then saved par at the eighth and ninth, converting a bunker shot and 15-foot putt at the former.

On the back nine, she hit a 4-iron within 10 feet at the 13th; a 9-iron within 20 feet at the 15th, then converted another bunker-to-15-feet-past situation on the relatively short (451 yards) par-5 16th.

Her tee shot at the par-3 17th ran right by the cup, and she left the 15- footer on the lip. At the 18th, she almost holed a curling 40-foot putt from the back of the green, the ball stopping on the edge.

Although Barrett is third in fairways hit on the tour's statistical list, she has been having trouble with her driver of late.

"I'm hitting a fade where I usually hit it straight. I fought it for several weeks, but I'm not fighting it any more. I'm just going to play with it.

"However, I putted extremely well, making all those three-to-four footers that are so key. You don't want to give those away."

Larsen eagled the 16th with a 5-wood second shot 45 feet right of the hole and one putt. At the ninth, she put her second shot in the left bunker, came out to eight feet and lipped out the putt.

Aside from Barrett, the Maryland contingent did not fare well. Michelle Mackall (formerly of Kensington) had a 75; Kim Williams (Potomac) bogeyed the last two holes for a 76; Joan Joyce (teaching professional at Woodholme CC) had an 81; and Troy Beck (assistant pro at Glenn Dale GC) had an 82.

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