By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- With near-perfect temperatures and, as usual, a large gallery streaming to the course, three golfers shared the lead after the first round of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.
Se Ri Pak, the 1998 Giant Eagle champion, Maggie Will and Marnie McGuire all shot 5-under-par 67s Friday at Squaw Creek Country Club.
Pak, from Daejeon, Korea, has won three times on the LPGA Tour this year. Will, from Wake Forest, N.C., has three victories in a 13-year career, none since 1994.
McGuire, of Auckland, New Zealand, has never won on the Tour. Her career-best finish was second place at the 1999 Giant Eagle tournament at Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
The crowds for four days of pre-tournament activities were well below normal, but temperatures in the 90s and high humidity Monday and Tuesday could have kept a lot of people away.
The large galleries were back Friday, and the players took notice.
"I just love the people around this area, in fact in the whole state; they are just so nice to me," said Pak, who has won four tournaments in Ohio, including three at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic in Toledo.
Not far behind: Three other golfers were just a stroke behind the leaders at 4-under 68: Becky Iverson of Gladstone, Mich., Donna Andrews of Pinehurst, N.C., and Ohioan Laurel Kean, of Willoughby Hills.
There was a logjam after the top six finishers -- 12 others were only two shots off the pace, including veteran Jane Geddes of Tampa, Fla., who made a hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole, her final hole of the day, to lead those at 3-under 69.
Defending champion Dorothy Delasin was also in the group at 3-under, as was former two-time champion Tammie Green, another Ohioan, from Somerset.
Today's second round was to tee off at 7:30 a.m. from both nines. Television coverage on ESPN2 begins at 2 p.m.
The field will be cut to the low-70 scores and ties for Sunday's final round.