LAKE ORION, Mich. -- Helen Alfredsson turned the first round of the 49th U.S. Women's Open into a one-woman demolition derby at Indianwood Golf and Country Club yesterday.
Alfredsson, 29, reeled off eight birdies in posting a 32-3163 over the 6,244-yard, par-71 course. It elevated her name to the highest level of single-round scoring in a major championship, man or woman, a level previously reserved for the likes of Nicklaus, Norman, Miller and Sheehan.
"When you're shooting a good score, sometimes you don't realize it," the Swedish star said. "Here, you're not thinking overall; every shot needs special attention. You just try to keep playing."
For the course, she hit 15 greens and had three par-saving putts on her way to a total of 25. Four of her birdies were on putts ranging from 15 to 35 feet.
The round not only obliterated the previous Open record of 65 shared by three women, but also equaled the all-time scoring record for a major championship by a woman or a man. She becomes the 12th (Patty Sheehan and 10 men) to achieve this feat.
This historic effort comes after her last-round disaster of a year ago when she led by three strokes with a 54-hole record 207 at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., then shot 74 and lost by a stroke when overtaken by Lauri Merten's 68.
"Not even close," was her response when asked if this in some way made up for last year's fold. "The difference there was between winning and losing the Open championship. This is just the first round."
How confident did this make her about the rest of the week?
"I don't even know how I'm going to feel tomorrow [today]. That is my moodiness coming in and out. So, I take today, I'm happy for today and I'll deal with tomorrow then."
Alfredsson's late-afternoon heroics (she finished shortly after 7 p.m.) overshadowed what until then was a dramatic story in its own right.
Carol Semple Thompson, of Sewickley, Pa., KO'd the single-round amateur tournament record by two strokes when she shot 5-under-par 32-3466.
The showing by Thompson, 45, in her 25th U.S. Women's Open, heralded a string of superb efforts by some older players.
Judy Dickinson, 44, and Sheehan, 37, plus Tammie Green, 34, joined Thompson at 66, followed by Sally Little (a comeback story in her own right), 42; Dale Eggling, 40, plus Donna Andrews, 27, who tied for second a year ago, at 67.
Among four at 68 was Laura Davies, 30, the 1987 champion. Seven at 69 included JoAnne Carner, 55; Betsy King, 38, and Beth Daniel, 37.
From a field of 150, 24 players broke par in the largest one-day assault in tournament history.
Still, until Alfredsson zoomed off, Thompson, a member of the U.S. Golf Association's Executive Committee, monopolized the scene.
"I don't think this compares with anything in any event that I have ever done," said Thompson, who figured this was her 63rd USGA event.
A former U.S. and British Amateur champion, she added that, "I promised myself when I woke up that I was going to be patient, no matter what happened, and I was going to be forgiving."
She knew she wouldn't hit every shot perfectly. "I wondered what was going on a couple times, but after the 16th -- that was really ridiculous." At that 404-yard hole, she had 172 yards to the hole from the middle of the fairway, and, "I skulled my 5-iron into the hole for a 2."
Dickinson also had an eagle, hitting a pitching wedge for her third shot at the 468-yard 12th.
U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
The leader . . .
Helen Alfredsson 32-31-63
. . . and selected followers
Patty Sheehan 34-32-66
Tammie Green 32-34-66
Judy Dickinson 35-31-66
Carol Semple Thompson 32-34-66
Laura Davies 35-33-68
Beth Daniel 34-35-69
JoAnne Carner 35-34-69
Tina Barrett 34-38-72
Kim Williams 34-38-72
Nancy Lopez 39-34-73 Complete scores: 9D
Par .......... 543 ... 434 ... 444--35
Alfredsson ... 433 ... 424 ... 444--32
Par .......... 445 ... 345 ... 434--36
Alfredsson ... 344 ... 335 ... 324--31
ONE FOR THE BOOKS
Helen Alfredsson's 63 yesterday was the lowest round in U.S. Women's Open history and matched the lowest score in a men's or women's major:
U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN LOWEST SCORES
* 63 -- Helen Alfredsson, Indianwood G&CC;, 1994.
* 65 -- Sally Little, CC Indianapolis, 1978.
* 65 -- Judy Clark (Dickinson), Baltusrol GC (upper course), 1985.
* 65 -- Ayako Okamoto, Indianwood G&CC;, 1989.
63's IN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
* U.S. Women's Open -- Alfredsson, Indianwood G&CC;, 1994.
* LPGA Championship -- Patty Sheehan, Jack Nicklaus GC, Kings Island, Ohio, 1984.
* Masters -- Nick Price, Augusta National GC, 1986.
* U.S. Open -- Johnny Miller, Oakmont GC, 1973; Jack Nicklaus, Baltusrol GC (lower course), 1980; Tom Weiskopf, Baltusrol GC (lower course), 1980.
* British Open -- Mark Hayes, Turnberry, Scotland, 1977; Greg Norman, Turnberry, Scotland, 1986.
* PGA Championship -- Bruce Crampton, Firestone GC, Akron, Ohio, 1975; Raymond Floyd, Southern Hills CC, Tulsa, Okla., 1982; Gary Player, Shoal Creek CC, Birmingham, Ala., 1984; Vijay Singh, Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio, 1993.