Golf: Lytham favours the mean and Moodie

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The Independent Online
COMPARED TO the first two days, the field was relatively becalmed and it took a one-time lifeguard to resuscitate the Weetabix Women's British Open yesterday. Myra Murray, a 25-year-old Scottish international, became the first player to break 70 having survived on the cut-off point of 13 over par. Murray followed rounds of 81 and 76 with a 69 that included a solitary bogey on the second hole. That was the only green she missed in regulation.

For the first time the storm clouds gave way to blue skies, the wind dropped, the temperature rose and the scores, well, some of them, improved. It was a good day for Scotland as Janice Moodie assumed the lead with a 72. At three over par for the championship she heads the chase for the pounds 100,000 first prize today by a stroke from the American Betsy King, whom she will partner in the final round, and by two from Leslie Spalding, Wendy Ward and India's Smriti Mehra.

With the European Tour struggling to find sponsors, Moodie, like most of her contemporaries, makes a living in the United States. And a good living it is. A former Curtis Cup player, Moodie, who is 25, and who learned her golf at Windyhill, Glasgow, is 39th on the American money list with almost $150,000 (pounds 95,000).

Murray, who worked as a lifeguard at Dunoon Baths before she and her husband opened a bed and breakfast establishment in Inverness, is also heading for the biggest cheque of her career. This is particularly good news for her caddie Graeme Matthew. He used to carry the bag of another Scottish international, his wife Catriona Matthew, until they realised that the partnership, at least on course, wasn't working. They spent too much time arguing. No sooner had the business relationship been dissolved than Catriona won the WPGA Championship of Europe at Gleneagles last week.

However, at Lytham she missed the cut, leaving her husband to earn a few bob over the weekend.

Catrin Nilsmark of Sweden also came in with a 69 but the most surprising development of the third round was the failure of Brandie Burton to consolidate her overnight advantage. The American had performed heroically in the testing conditions of the first two days, establishing a one-stroke lead over her compatriot Spalding.

Yesterday Brandie snapped at the par-five seventh. She drove into rough, and found a bunker with her third from which she failed to escape at her first attempt. To make matters worst she chipped over the green and ran up an eight in a score of 77.

Mehra moved into contention with a 71 after going to the turn in 33. A member of the Royal Calcutta Club, she is the only lady professional in India which makes her one in a billion. Her performance here has been all the more remarkable considering that this is her first visit to Britain, her first experience of a links course.

Laura Davies, the biggest draw in European golf, failed to survive the cut after finishing at 14 over par, and was sorely missed by the sponsors, not to mention the on-course bookmakers.

However, her absence did not deter the crowds. Yesterday more than 20,000 people were at Lytham, a record attendance, surpassing the previous highs of 16,800 on Thursday and 17,000 on Friday. Many were interested in the exploits of the 20-year-old Korean Se Ri Pak who, in her rookie year on the US tour, has won two majors. She will not, however, win the British Open after a 79 put her at 15 over par.