WILMINGTON, Del. -- All Juli Inkster wanted was a chance to make history in the LPGA Championship. All that separates her now is 18 holes -- and about 30 players.
In a command performance three weeks ago, Inkster took a four-stroke lead into the final round of the U.S. Open and won going away. On Sunday at DuPont Country Club, the challenge will be much different.After closing out the third round with her first bogey in 51 holes, Inkster plopped into a chair with her daughters on her knee and sized up her chances of becoming only the second woman to win the LPGA's modern career Grand Slam.
"There was more pressure to win the Open because I had a four-shot lead and it was my tournament," Inkster said. "Here, it's everybody's tournament."
Inkster finished with a 2-under 69 and was at 203, tied with Nancy Scranton and Cristie Kerr. Another stroke back were Se Ri Pak, Liselotte Neumann, Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon, whose 63 tied the record for a major championship and really got Inkster thinking.
"Someone could come out of nowhere, get in the clubhouse and have a beer and wait for us to finish," she said. "I've got to go out there tomorrow and make birdies."
In the same way, Inkster came out of the pack to stand on the threshold of history. Before the year started, she was a 38-year-old mother of two striving for a balance between family and career.
After three victories, including the U.S. Open, she now has a chance to join Pat Bradley as the only women to win the LPGA's four majors. Inkster won the Dinah Shore and the du Maurier Classic as a rookie in 1984.
"I don't think I'll get caught up in that," she said. "I just need to go out there and play."
Nineteen players were within four shots of the leaders going into the final round, and Mallon proved Saturday that the winner might be able to start from even further back in the back.
"It was anyone's ball game today," Mallon said.
The group at 205 included Lorie Kane and former U.S. Open champion Alison Nicholas, while Laura Davies and Kelli Kuehne were another stroke back. As hard and fast as the course has been playing, even Annika Sorenstam at 4-under 209 cannot be ruled out.
"Even tomorrow, there could be another 8-under in there," Neumann said.
Inkster made a bogey on the second hole of the tournament on Thursday, but has been virtually flawless ever since. She birdied both par-5s on the back nine to put herself in the lead, but then missed a 12-foot par putt on the final hole.
Still, it was her 16th consecutive round under par.
"She's got to have a lot of momentum," Scranton said. "She's very confident because she's produced over and over. I would think she'll be feeling pretty good."
Besides Bradley, the only other woman to win the career Grand Slam was Mickey Wright, when the four majors were the LPGA Championship, U.S. Open, Titleholders and Western Open from 1955-66.