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Rainout Gives Golfers Day Off

April 30, 1999

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (AP) _ When Michelle Estill woke to wind, rain and cold today at the LPGA City of Hope Myrtle Beach Classic, one thought jumped in her head.

``It’s movie day,″ she said.

About an inch of overnight rain and the threat of more throughout the day led the LPGA to cancel the round and shorten the tournament to 54 holes.

To Estill, whose 72 was four shots behind leaders Judy Inkster and Amy Benz, dealing with rain is part of the job _ and a nice break in the grind of weekly tournaments.

She still planned to work out and stretch, but then she and Gail Graham were going to check out Sean Connery’s new movie, ``Entrapment.″

Players wore layers of windshirts, sweaters and rain pants to make it through Thursday’s opening round. Graham dreaded going through that again, with temperatures no higher than 50 degrees.

``When you heard it rain all night and you’re sort of anticipating not playing, you’re kind of almost glad when you’re not,″ said Graham, who started with a 75.

The field will be cut after Saturday’s round.

When the LPGA came to this town two years ago, it hoped to take advantage of the area’s reputation as one of the country’s top golf vacation spots.

But last year, organizers had to stop play twice because of rain in the second round. In the tournament’s inaugural year, strong winds rattled concession tents and messed with club selections.

``The wind was blowing 40 mph and the temperatures were in the 60s. That was a fun day,″ Christie Kerr said.

Despite Thursday’s conditions, 55 players were at par 72 or better at Wachesaw East Golf Club. There were 18 within two shots of Inkster and Benz, who shot 4-under 68s.

Those are the lucky ones, said Jean Bartholomew.

``Having a good round yesterday puts then up there,″ she said. ``If it’s nice on the weekend like they say, it puts them in good position.

Bartholomew, who was third at last week’s Chik-fil-A event, was 10 shots behind.

``It was definitely an advantage to get out early,″ Benz said. ``I think we all anticipated it being a lot worse out there.″

Karrie Webb, the season’s top money-winner, led a group of six at 69. She is looking for her third straight Myrtle Beach title. ``You have to be patient in these conditions,″ she said. ``You always hit a club shorter with it being so cold out and having so many clothes on.″

No one had enough clothes to deal with Friday’s drenching. Emilee Klein battled her large golf umbrella to make it through the parking lot. Tournament executive director Rosemary Nash said the driving range was under water and all the players had left by 10 a.m.

``It kind of throws you off a little bit,″ Graham said. ``But if you kind of had a rough day, it kind of gives you a chance to regroup a little bit, too.″

Bartholomew couldn’t believe that International Falls, Minn., _ where temperatures were closing in on 80 _ was warmer that Myrtle Beach.

``It’s the coldest part of the country right now,″ she said.

Or, as Estill noted, ``The movie theater will be packed.″

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