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Winds Add Another Obstacle at Open

July 4, 1998

KOHLER, Wis. (AP) _ Just what the field at the U.S. Women’s Open needed, wicked winds.

Already succumbing to the unforgiving Blackwolf Run Golf Course, the field had to fight swirling winds whipping off Lake Michigan on Saturday.

Overnight rains drenched the course, softening the fast greens, but that didn’t help as much as Liselotte Neumann had hoped.

As storm clouds gathered Friday night, Neumann, one stroke off the lead, said rains would be a godsend for the third round.

``Yes, please. That would be nice,″ she said. ``I think everybody would definitely be able to be a little bit more aggressive. And, I think it would definitely help the scores for sure.″

Instead, scores soared in the early going Saturday, thanks to the gusts coming off the lake.

Annika Sorenstam, the 1995 and ’96 Open winner who began the day seven strokes back, saw her chances of winning a third title in four years sink with a quintuple-bogey on the 402-yard, par-4 third hole.

Her second shot went into deep rough bunker to the left of the green and it took her four shots to get out _ even at that, her fourth shot sailed over the green. She added a bogey on No. 6 and a double-bogey on 7.

After the 36-hole cut was determined Saturday morning _ darkness halted play Friday night with 21 golfers still on the course _ only two players were under par halfway through the biggest event in women’s golf.

Se Ri Pak, the 20-year-old South Korean who won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in May, was the leader at 3-under 139.

She teed off in the afternoon along with Neumann.

The 6,412-yard, par-71 layout, the second longest in the 53-year-history of the Women’s Open, was proved so unmerciful that several golfers predicted nobody would master the Pete Dye-designed course.

``I think level par will win,″ said Laura Davies, who began the day four strokes off the lead.

High scores, a nearly hourlong lightning delay and even a deer crossing the 17th green _ ``Obviously, he wasn’t wearing spikes,″ cracked Hollis Stacy _ contributed to slow play in Round 2.

Two golfers who had to return to complete their second rounds Saturday morning made the cut of 62 golfers: Isabelle Blais, an amateur who plays for the University of Oklahoma, and Anna Acker-Macosko.

``The conditions were very hard this morning,″ Blais said. ``It was difficult with the cold and the wind. But I’m used to that in Oklahoma.″

Pak is seeking to become the first woman to win two majors in her rookie year since Juli Inkster, who captured the Nabisco Dinah Shore and du Maurier Ltd. Classic in 1984.

The last women to win back-to-back majors was Meg Mallon in 1991. Davies is the last to win two majors in a year: the du Maurier and the McDonald’s in 1996.

Davies liked Pak’s chances.

``She has got nothing to lose,″ said Davies, who won the 1987 Open. ``She is 20. She is going to play in 20 more Opens. Probably the rest of us are counting down how many more Opens we are going to play. If it doesn’t work out for her this time _ that is the way I used to think when I came out here and started playing _ then she will win in next year, and so on and so forth.

``So, I think she will be very tough to beat,″ Davies said. ``I think the course is the thing that will keep her from going too far under par. If you are one shot ahead of her, you will probably be holding the trophy.″

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