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SPORTS WEEKEND

Tschetter, Marshall Make Rough Course Look Easy

Golf: They avoid trouble the best and lead Dinah Shore with 66s.

March 28, 1997|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RANCHO MIRAGE — It was a good day to know a little something about golf history Thursday at the Nabisco Dinah Shore, where the first-round leaders are a player who counts Ben Hogan as a friend and another from Scotland who would rather play St. Andrews than breathe and whose husband is named, yes, Scot.

The only thing missing at Mission Hills Country Club was Walter Hagen's niece and Old Tom Morris' pipe.

Kris Tschetter, who met Hogan when she was a student at Texas Christian, and Kathryn Marshall, whose home course in Scotland is about a brassie away from Carnoustie, stayed out of the rough long enough to post six-under-par 66s worth a two-shot lead.

Jane Geddes opened at 68, along with Sherri Steinhauer, Dale Eggeling and Deb Richard. Dottie Pepper, Karrie Webb, Pat Bradley and Amy Fruhwirth are three shots behind at 69, and there are more players tied at two-under 70 than bottles of suntan lotion on sale in the pro shop.

Notable in this cozy group of 12, four shots behind, are Laura Davies, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam and Kelly Robbins.

On a warm day in the desert, it quickly became clear that the best way to post a good score was to steer clear of the rough, basically because landing a golf ball in the stuff was like dropping it into a bowl of lettuce.

Tschetter visited the rough only three times, the worst occasion being at the par-five ninth. Tschetter managed to save par even though she could have used a range finder to locate her ball.

"It was absolutely down there," Tschetter said. "And with a ton of grass on it."

The 32-year-old from Virginia, who began on No. 10, birdied five of the last eight holes on her front nine, including a 20-footer on the 11th, a 15-footer on the 15th and 14-footer on the 18th.

Tschetter didn't exactly arrive at the year's first major on the wings of a bunch of birdies. In five events, she has missed two cuts and tied for 71st last week at Phoenix.

She made one birdie on the front, then waited for everybody else to try to catch up. Marshall was the only one who could.

The 29-year-old Solheim Cup veteran calls Monifieth her home course back in Scotland, but Marshall treated Mission Hills as if she has played it much more than she has, which would be twice.

Marshall won the 1995 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, but finished no higher than a tie for 18th last year and was No. 80 on the money list. In June, her husband quit his job as a civil engineer to become her caddie, and they have been off and running since.

In fact, they have no home base when playing the LPGA Tour three months at a time, so they live out of their suitcases.

"If you could see our hotel room, you would know," Marshall said.

The first hole was also a mess for Marshall, who bogeyed it after she missed the green. But she made amends with birdies on the next two holes.

Marshall went to four under when she knocked a wedge to four feet and made the putt on No. 10, birdied the 12th and saved par from the rough with a 12-foot putt on No. 13. She caught Tschetter with a 20-footer from below the hole on the 17th.

Tschetter caught up with a legend at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth. That's where Hogan is a member and where Tschetter joined when her dad gave her a membership as a gift.

Tschetter said they talked a lot, not only about golf, and she enjoyed being around him. What she hasn't liked too much is putting.

The problem is Tschetter's peripheral vision when she putts--it looks as though there are two holes to aim at. To correct that flaw, Tschetter has been doing vision exercises, even if she isn't sure what they are.

"They don't tell me because they don't want me to think about it," she said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Leaders

At Mission Hills CC--Par 72

Kris Tschetter: 35-31--66 -6

Kathryn Marshall: 33-33--66 -6

Sherri Steinhauer: 32-36--68 -4

Deb Richard: 35-33--68 -4

Jane Geddes: 36-32--68 -4

Dale Eggeling: 35-33--68 -4

Dottie Pepper: 33-36--69 -3

Pat Bradley: 35-34--69 -3

Karrie Webb: 32-37--69 -3

Amy Fruhwirth: 35-34--69 -3

* COMPLETE SCORES, C12

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