Most of the spectators driven away by the storm returned when play resumed more than two hours later.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- A second-year pro and a tour veteran share the first-round lead at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.
Beth Bader, a second-year LPGA Tour member from Eldridge, Iowa, and 10-year veteran Kelly Robbins from Mount Pleasant, Mich., each bettered the Squaw Creek Country Club record in this tournament with 8-under-par 64 Friday.
Both teed off in the morning round and took advantage of good weather, which turned bad in the afternoon with lightning and rain suspending play for more than two hours.
The leaders have a one-stroke lead over Mi Hyun Kim of Seoul, Korea, and 14-year veteran Danielle Ammaccapane, who both opened with 7-under-par 65s.
Another stroke back is LPGA Tour rookie Natalie Gulbis, who fired a 5-under-par 67 to stand alone in fifth place.
Six other golfers were another stroke behind at 4-under-par 68, including former Giant Eagle champions Jackie Gallagher-Smith and Beth Daniel.
Approximately 30 golfers had finished their 18-hole rounds when the tournament officials suspended play at 1:58 p.m. Play did not resume until 4:14 p.m. after more than a half-inch of rain fell on Squaw Creek Country Club.
Bader's round was her career best. She had never finished better than a tie for 30th place, and that came last season. Her best finish this year had been a tie for 49th place.
Robbins, who joined the LPGA Tour in 1992, has won nine times in her career and has two top-10 finishes this season and career earnings of nearly $5 million.
Crowds at the tournament were growing until the storm hit, although most of them returned when play resumed.
This is the second straight year the tournament has been held at Squaw Creek Country Club. In the eight previous years, the event was held at Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
The tournament began in the Mahoning Valley in 1990 at Squaw Creek when it was called the Phar-Mor in Youngstown.
The tournament was called the Youngstown-Warren LPGA Classic from 1993 through 1996, when Giant Eagle became the title sponsor. In 1999 Giant Eagle increased the prize purse to $1 million.
The tournament continues today and Sunday. ESPN2 will televise from 2 to 4 p.m. today and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The field will be cut after today's round to the low 70 golfers and any ties for the 70th spot.