Gustafson in her element as weather turns nasty - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Gustafson in her element as weather turns nasty

But if she does, she would definitely prefer a less arduous route to the title, one that does not encompass the nerve-jangling fear of losing both a nine-stroke lead and the title.

Five years ago, Gustafson played some of the finest golf of her career to be 12-under par after three rounds. Although the tournament was not then acknowledged as a major, it had a full field of world-class competitors and, after the Swede eagled the first hole of the final round, she held a nine-shot lead.

But gradually the shots began to slip away and the more Gustafson tried to protect her lead - instead of playing the golf that gave it to her in the first place - the worse the situation got. In the end, she prevailed, but not before seven shots of her original margin had disappeared.

The memories of that near nightmare resurfaced yesterday for Gustafson, as she returned to something near her best form and, on a day made desperately difficult by heavy rain and driving wind, got round in 69, three-under par, to be only one behind the surprise leader, Jeong Jang.

The latter, a diminutive Korean known by her peers as JJ, is one of 26 players from that country with cards to play the LPGA tour.

In her sixth season as a professional, she has yet to win but she showed something of the right attitude yesterday when told by her caddie: "You have to smile today." She replied: "I have to?" And the caddie said: "Yes, because everyone has the same conditions."

As a formula, it worked, and she responded with an eagle, four birdies and just two bogeys.

Gustafson is having a middling-to-poor season in the US. After 14 tournaments she is 56th in the official money list, without a win and with only two top-10 finishes. But a 69 in the final round of last week's Evian Masters brought back some confidence and she said: "Birkdale is my favourite course and I think that I have been playing better than my scores have shown."

Some of the big names suffered the most in the morning gales. Annika Sorenstam, attempting to win her third major of the season, did well to contain the elements sufficiently for a 73 - one-over par - and said: "It was very, very difficult, really tough."

The Swede, who had been reaching all the par fives in practice, suddenly found them out of range and failed to birdie any of the three that form part of Birkdale's last four holes.

Michelle Wie managed a 75, three-over. She said: "I have played in rain before. I have played in the wind before. I've played when it was cold before. But with all of them together, it was hectic. This is the first time I've played in the British Open and I feel like I got the whole package."

There was a one-hour rain delay while Wie was on the course, meaning that not all the field will finish. The defending champion, Karen Stupples, quickly discovered, though, that fame is fleeting. Her group consisted of the winner and runner-up last week at the Evian Masters, Paula Creamer and Lorena Ochoa.

Both were correctly named on the carry board telling the spectators how the players were doing. Karen, though, was simply "Tupple" although the lack of an "S" or two probably had nothing to do with three putts from 15-feet for a bogey at the short fourth.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future