Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 22 News List

McKay maintains her four-shot lead

US WOMEN'S OPEN Despite a triple bogey on No. 9, the Scottish golfer was able to remain ahead of the pack, while Annika Sorenstam ended eight strokes behind the leader

AP , NORTH PLAINS, OREGON

Pak Se-ri of South Korea, tees off on the back nine during the second round of the US Women's Open in North Plains, Oregon, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

All it takes is one hole to change the tone of the US Women's Open.

For Mhairi McKay, it was a tough-luck triple bogey on No. 9 Friday that kept her from running away from the field at Pumpkin Ridge, although the consolation was a four-shot lead going into the weekend.

McKay wound up with a 1-under 70 and finished two rounds on Witch Hollow course at 136, giving her a comfortable margin over Juli Inkster (71), Hillary Lunke (69) and Angela Stanford (70).

Donna Andrews had a 72, and at 1-under 141 was the only other player under par.

Annika Sorenstam hit an approach into the water on No. 6 and was lucky to make bogey, but a birdie on the final hole gave her another 72 -- eight strokes behind.

"No lead is comfortable on the weekend on this course," Sorenstam said. "Nothing is easy here."

McKay made it look that way until the end, but she wasn't about to let the ugly finish spoil her mood or her outlook.

"I'm really delighted with my golf game," she said. "It's a dream come true."

Sorenstam had a few choice words for Witch Hollow, particularly after taking a bogey on the 379-yard eighth hole, where the pin was placed in a bowl and the green was so hard there was no chance of getting anything close.

Her 6-iron landed about 3 feet onto the green and wound up in the first cut of rough over a shelf. She started her birdie putt 15 feet to the right, watched it roll back to the cup and 15 feet beyond, almost to the fringe.

Sorenstam looked at her husband, David Esch, and made a slash gesture across her throat. Translation: Miss the green long and you're dead.

She told the rules officials she thought the hole was almost unplayable.

"You want us to miss the green," Sorenstam said she told the official.

Inkster knows the feeling, although she brought her troubles on herself. After birdies on three of the first five holes to momentarily take the lead at 5 under, Inkster went from a fairway bunker to a greenside bunker on No. 8, then blasted out long on the upper shelf, slapping her thigh in frustration.

She brought double bogey into the picture, and that's what she got.

On the other side of Pumpkin Ridge, McKay was up to her old tricks. After five straight birdies in the opening round, she ran the table again with five birdies over seven holes to build a lead that didn't seem possible.

Still, Inkster didn't feel like the Open was slipping away.

"I've been in enough of these to know that no lead is safe," Inkster said. "These next two days are going to be really tough. I'm happy where I'm at."

No one could have guessed that McKay would give back so many shots so quickly, especially after being in complete control of her game for 35 holes.

Then again, she said she was simply a victim of poor circumstances, and it was difficult to argue with her.

Her tee shot not only found a fairway bunker, it plugged against the lip, leaving McKay no choice but to blast out as hard as she could and hope the ball found green grass. It did, but only barely, moving about 5 feet and onto a downslope of the rough.

From there, she punched into the left rough, then saw her pitch to the green run down the slope and into a collection area. She chipped out to 30 feet, and had to make a 6-footer just to save triple bogey.

McKay raised her arms in mock triumph, as if she had just won the Open. Facing a group of reporters after her round, she smiled and said, "You're all going to ask about No. 9, aren't you?"

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