There was a dramatic shift at the top of the leaderboard during the third round of the 2013 Women's British Open. Mo Martin's lead evaporated in a hurry, opening the door for a dramatic Sunday at Royal Birkdale.
Martin was a surprise leader after the second round, playing two efficient rounds at 69 to go into the weekend at six-under par. It made for a good story, but one that was not meant to last, as the American fired a five-over 77 on Saturday to fall back into seventh place.
Charley Hull, an England native, had the best third-round performance with a 66. She was all over the map early, with two bogeys and two birdies on the first four holes, then finished with seven birdies and one bogey on the final 13 holes to jump into a tie for seventh.
The 18-year-old talked about her stellar performance in a post-match interview, via the LPGA's YouTube channel:
With the second-round leader falling down, things opened up for four-time Grand Slam champion Inbee Park. The 26-year-old fired a four-under 68 on Saturday to take a one stroke lead. This would be her first British Open title after previously finishing as high as second (2012).
We've got a look at the leaderboard following Saturday's action, as well as an in-depth look at the top storylines heading into Sunday's final round.
|Position||Player||Round 3 Score||Overall|
|1||Inbee Park||-4 (68)||-4|
|T2||Suzann Pattersen||-4 (68)||-3|
|T2||Shanshan Feng||-3 (69)||-3|
|T2||Sun Ju Ahn||-1 (71)||-3|
|T5||Amelia Lewis||-1 (71)||-2|
|T5||Julieta Granada||E (72)||-2|
|T7||Charley Hull||-6 (66)||-1|
|T7||Stacy Lewis||-2 (70)||-1|
|T7||Eun-Hee Ji||-1 (71)||-1|
|T7||Amy Yang||E (72)||-1|
|T7||So Yeon Ryu||+2 (74)||-1|
|T7||Beatriz Recari||+2 (74)||-1|
|T7||Mo Martin||+5 (77)||-1|
Full results can be found at LPGAScoring.com
Inbee Park Flirting With History
Saturday was a very big day for Park. Not only did she move into the lead at the British Open, but it also happened to be her 26th birthday. Tomorrow will provide the real celebration if she's able to win in England.
It would also be a historic win, according to Justin Ray of the Golf Channel, as her fourth Grand Slam win since 2013.
Inbee Park: 54-hole leader @RICOHWomensBrit - trying to become 5th woman to win 4+ majors in 2-season span (Tseng, Webb, Bradley, Wright)— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 12, 2014
What makes Park's run this weekend so fascinating is the way she's struggled in previous majors this year. The South Korean star finished 38th at the Nabisco Championship and tied for 43rd at the U.S. Open. She discussed those shortcomings in her post-round interview, via LPGA's YouTube channel:
Park's 68 was tied with Suzann Pettersen for the second-best round of the day, trailing only Hull's 66.
Mo Martin Plummets On Back Nine
Who will win the 2014 Women's British Open?
If you are a glass-half full kind of person, Martin being tied for seventh heading into the final round is a step in the right direction. After all, the 31-year-old hasn't finished higher than 29th in any Grand Slam throughout her career and her previous best finish at the British Open was 57th.
However, if you are looking at things from an objective point of view, Martin's Saturday was nothing short of a disaster. She held the lead after Friday, but couldn't do anything right on the back nine Saturday.
In particular, Martin's performance from No. 11 through 14 destroyed what was an otherwise strong day. She made the turn at just one-over with a 36, still at five-under for the tournament, then fired a double-bogey on 11 and three straight bogeys from 12-14 that pushed her to five-over for the round.
It's a drastic turn for Martin, whose ability to hit her driver accurately in the first two rounds was pointed out by Beth Ann Nichols of GolfWeek.com:
The rough is thick and penal at Royal Birkdale. Guess who leads the LPGA in driving accuracy? Your leader here, Mo Martin.— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) July 12, 2014
Going back to the optimistic view for Sunday, it's hard to imagine things getting worse for Martin in the final round. If she can find a way to play the next 18 holes like she did the first 36, things will get interesting.
Controversy For Sun-Ju Ahn
The third round didn't go smoothly for Sun-Ju Ahn, who has been hanging around the leaderboard the last two rounds. The 26-year-old held the lead at five-under on the 18th hole, then thought she would end the round there after a par putt.
However, as specifically noted by the Golf Central's Twitter account, Ahn was assessed a two-stroke penalty for building a stance in one of the bunkers on the final hole that dropped her score to three-under par.
Sun-Ju Ahn (-3) assessed 2-shot penalty for building-a-stance (rule 13.3) in a bunker on the 18th hole. pic.twitter.com/8bPC0Zp1Gy— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) July 12, 2014
Ahn's double-bogey on 18 taints what was an otherwise stellar round. She had a single bogey on five and four birdies before the final hole. You hope an incident like that doesn't ruin her confidence, especially after playing so well before that moment.
The penalty was obviously a hot topic of conversation after the round. Ahn told reporters, via ESPN.com, that she understood and accepted the ruling through an interpreter.
So what I was trying to do was fix a stance. But after the review, it was determined that I used my feet to try to make an even lie. My intent wasn't to break the rules. It was just to set my feet firm in the sand just to be able to make the shot. But that's the rule. There was no intent and I can't do anything about it.
The Korean star is looking to win her first career Grand Slam event. She previously finished in a tie for 14th at the British Open in 2011, but hasn't been much of a factor in any majors throughout her career.
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