Stupples Leads at Women's British Open

Saturday, July 31st 2004, 2:48 pm
By: News On 6

SUNNINGDALE, England (AP) _ Annika Sorenstam made three birdies on the front nine and moved within two strokes of the lead before everything went wrong off the tee at the Women's British Open. ``I missed fairways, I missed greens,'' Sorenstam said Friday after her 1-under 71 left her in a fifth-place tie, four strokes behind leader Karen Stupples.

``Luckily I chipped really well. I made a good bunker shot at the last and made some good putts. But it was the long game, I couldn't keep it in play.''

Stupples had another bogey-free round, this time a 2-under 70 that moved her to 9-under 135. Beth Daniel (69) and South Korea's Jeong Jang (68) and Seol-An Jeon (69) are tied for second at 6-under 138.

With the sun shining on Sunningdale's Old Course and little wind to trouble the early starters, Stupples fired a 7-wood to the back of the green at the first and made a two-putt birdie. She rolled in a ``perfect'' 40-foot birdie putt at No. 17 after coming up short with her second shot.

She believes she should have been further ahead of the field.

``It was a bit frustrating at times because I had a couple of opportunities, one on 9 and one on 10, to make birdie,'' Stupples said. ``I felt like I hit really good putts, but they just didn't go in the hole.

``The one on 10 was like a dagger to my heart because it totally did a horseshoe around the hole.''

Sorenstam birdied the first two holes, both easy par 5s, and was closing in on Stupples.

``I got off to a good start ... and I felt pretty good about everything,'' Sorenstam said. ``And then I made the turn and I didn't feel so good any more. I was just scrambling on the back nine really. So it was a bit like a long day.

``I still shot under par, so I have to look on the bright side. I lost a little ground but then again I'm right there. There's two more days. It's not the end of the world by any means.''

Sorenstam, the defending champion, said she was disturbed on the 12th tee by a camera clicking on her backswing, although an official on the course said the noise came from a scoreboard behind the photographers near the 11th green.

She admitted, however, that her drive was not a good one anyway.

``No, it was a bad shot and after that I had to deal with it,'' the Swede said. ``I ended up in some heather, which was very thick, and I had to play for bogey on that hole. I missed my tee shot on 14 and put myself in the bunker,'' she said. ``That's a par 5 where you're really looking for birdie and I walk away with bogey, so you kind of lose a shot and a half on that hole.''

Of the chasing pack, Daniel and Betsy King raised a flag for the veterans. Jang and Jeon maintained impressive performances by South Koreans on the course. At Sunningdale three years ago, Se Ri Pak won the British Open title, and Mi Hyun Kim placed second.

Daniel, a 25-year tour veteran whose only major in 33 tournament victories came at the LPGA Championship in 1990, made four birdies in her 69. She did have a three-putt bogey at the fifth.

``I still enjoy the game,'' said Daniel, who has won once in nine years. ``There's no reason for me to stop playing. I am driven by the game.''

Asked what else drives her, she replied: ``Maybe it's because everyone else thinks I should quit.''

King, who has won six majors in her 27-year years on tour, made her second straight 70 and is 4 under. She was threatening the lead at 7 under through 14 holes but bogeyed three of the last four.

``I made a couple of putts today and I haven't missed any short ones. But I feel I have to hit the ball a little better and get a couple of 66s,'' she said.

``If you can do that and take advantage of the par 5s, the greens are rolling very well,'' said King, who won the British Open in 1985 at Moor Park, long before it became a major.