By John Huggan
It’s called the luck of the draw. And Inbee Park (pictured) and Stacy Lewis took full advantage in third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns on Saturday.
For one thing, the pair played the vast majority of their rounds in warm sunshine, finishing before the leaders even started. For another, Park made eight birdies and no bogeys en route to equalling Michelle Wie’s course record of 64; Lewis’ nine birdies hampered only by the brace of dropped shots that saw her round in 65. And for one more, just about the time the current Olympic champion and former WBO champion were signing their cards, the temperature began to drop markedly and the rain started to fall.
Mixed well, all of the above saw Park rise from a lowly T-48 to second; Lewis to T-3. Only overnight leader I.K. Kim was still one-shot ahead of Park on 11-under par.
That situation would change when Kim and her playing partner Georgia Hall both made early birdies. But the sudden presence of two such formidable competitors in contention was sure to make things tougher for those who waited through the sunshine only to tee-off in the sort of chilly, overcast conditions Scots refer to as “dreich.”
“I putted great and hit the ball great,” said Park, who won this title at Turnberry two years ago. “That’s something I have been really struggling with for the last month. I have no idea where I will be by the end of the day. The weather here is so unpredictable. I’m just happy with the round for myself today. It doesn’t matter how many shots I’m back. I’ll just try to play my golf tomorrow. That’s all I can do.”
Lewis also credited her dramatically lower score to much-improved putting. And her mother.
“I really putted pretty poorly the first two days,” she admitted. “My mom told me I needed to take my putter straighter back. Mom apparently was right. I hate to give her credit but she was right. She doesn’t really understand how a putter should swing, but when we were talking technical stuff last night she said, ‘it should just go straight back and straight through, right?’ And that’s what I worked on today.
“Playing with Inbee helped too. You’re going to see putts go in. She makes it look pretty easy. She doesn’t take a lot of time. She reads putts quick and steps up and hits them. It’s refreshing to not sit there and grind so much and worry about things. She just gets up and hits it. That’s what I took away from today. You see putts rolling nicely. You see balls going in the hole. And that’s always a good thing.”