Beth Daniel had a scrambling par on the final hole to finish with a two-under-par 70 and take a one-stroke lead Thursday in the storm-delayed and uncompleted first round of the 41st U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Kettering, Ohio.
Nine players were halted by darkness on the NCR Country Club course, which was lashed by a morning thunderstorm. Those players marked their positions and are scheduled to return early today to complete their rounds.
None appeared to have a chance to move among the leaders.
"Any time you're around par in an Open, you have to be pleased," Daniel said.
Daniel played early in the day--with Pat Bradley--and saved her lead with a one-putt par after driving into the rough on the 18th. She finished moments before a severe thunderstorm lashed the course and caused a 1-hour 23-minute delay.
"I'm glad we got in before the storm," Bradley said. But that was about the only bright spot for the veteran who won the Dinah Shore and LPGA tournaments earlier this year.
Bradley, needing a victory here to keep alive her hopes of a one-year sweep of all the Grand Slam events, did not make a birdie and struggled to a 76.
Amy Benz continued to have trouble with the finishing holes but got in with a 71 despite bogeys on two of the last three holes.
"I just hit a couple of bad ones coming in," said Benz, who last week blew a five-shot lead and lost to Amy Alcott in the Mazda tournament at Houston. "But I hit a lot of good ones and I beat the golf course, and that was my goal."
She was tied for second with Silvia Bertolaccini and amateur Michele Redman, a 21-year-old Indiana University student who holed a 105-yard wedge shot for an eagle-3 and matched her career-best score.
Former winner Jan Stephenson led a large group at 72. Also at par were Betsy King, Judy Dickinson, Martha Nause, Sharri Turner, Jody Rosenthal, Jerilyn Britz and Tammie Green.
Adrian Stills, a rookie who missed the cut in eight of his 12 previous starts, shot a six-under-par 65 to share the first-round lead with Jodie Mudd in the Anheuser-Busch tournament at Williamsburg, Va.
"I'm going to try to keep this as low-key as possible," said Stills, who has earned just $4,818 this year. "I'm smiling right now, but I have a lot of work and a lot of golf left. I just hope I'm smiling like this on Sunday."
Stills, at 28 the youngest of the black golfers on the PGA Tour, and Mudd, a five-year tour veteran looking for his first victory, both played morning rounds over the 6,776-yard Kingsmill Golf Club course.
In second place after afternoon rounds of 66 were local pro Tony DeLuca and Jeff Sluman, who was playing with a new set of clubs after his were stolen recently.
The group of nine players at 67 included defending champion Mark Wiebe and John Mahaffey, a winner here in 1981 and the man Wiebe defeated in a playoff for last year's title.