Inkster retains British Open lead; Webb misses cut
Se Ri Pak, a five-time major winner who returned to form to capture this year's McDonald's LPGA Championship, withdrew from the Women's British Open with a neck injury Friday.
The 2001 Women's British Open champion from South Korea shot 6-over 78 in the first round. She came to the course Friday and told officials she could not play because of the injury.
Pak, who won two majors in her first season on the LPGA Tour in 1998, has been dogged by neck, shoulder, lower back and finger injuries in the past year. Last year at Royal Birkdale, she pulled out with a finger injury in the first round after playing nine holes.
-- The Associated Press
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Michelle Wie walked off the course at Royal Lytham pleased with her par saves on the final two holes.
Then she got to the recorders' office and realized her effort was all for naught.
Wie was penalized two strokes for making contact with a piece of moss behind her ball during her backswing while hitting out of a greenside bunker at the 14th. That left her with an 2-over 74 Friday and a two-day total of 4-over 148 at the Women's British Open -- 10 shots behind leader Juli Inkster.
"There was a piece of moss right behind my ball," she said. "I knew I hit it but I didn't think it would result in a penalty of two strokes. I thought if you hit dirt it would be OK but I guess I knew the rule wrong.
"It's not good after you play you find out you add two more shots in the end. The par saves I made on 17 and 18 feel as though they count for nothing in the end."
Inkster had an even-par 72, leaving her at 6-under 138, three shots better than Silvia Cavalleri of Italy. Inkster is seeking her eighth major and, if she can hold on, the 46-year-old would become the oldest golfer to win an LPGA Tour major.
"I'm very happy with the way I played today, the way I got it in, the way I got myself around this golf course," Inkster said. "Tomorrow, if I drive the ball a little better on the par 5s, I'll feel pretty good.
"Sometimes in majors you really have to grind it out and today was one of those days so I'm very happy with what I shot."
Wie now seems to have little chance of winning her first tournament.
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
• (a) Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
• (b) Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club;
• or(c) Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
-- Source: The Rules Of Golf, USGA
The 16-year-old from Hawaii came into the tournament with high hopes after a second-place finish at last week's Evian Masters and top-five finishes in her previous four majors. But she is tied for 37th heading into the weekend.
"It is even going to be even a more dramatic finish," she said.
The fact she had touched the moss behind her ball was noticed by TV viewers and also tournament officials.
It's not the first time in her short pro career that Wie has been penalized and found out about it later.
In her first tournament as a professional, the Samsung World Championship at Palm Desert, California, last October, she took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie during her third round. At the end of the tournament, officials ruled she made her drop at the wrong place, should have taken a two-shot penalty and disqualified her for signing an incorrect card.
Asked if Friday's infraction would cause her to go back and closely examine the rule book, Wie joked, "Well, it is not actually great reading material, but I am going to definitely call a rules official if something questionable happens."
Now she is 10 strokes behind Inkster, who shows no sign of giving up her lead despite another struggle to get to terms with British courses.
Inkster won all her seven majors on North American courses and confesses that she appeared to leave her golf game on the plane whenever she flew over to England. In eight visits, her best result is a tie for 10th at Royal Birkdale six years ago just before it became a major on the LPGA Tour.
She then missed the cut at Sunningdale and Turnberry, tied for 41st here at Lytham in 2003, for 25th again at Sunningdale and for 15th last year at Birkdale.
Cavalleri, whose best performance on the LPGA Tour is a tie for third at the 2002 Corning Classic, was tied for the lead with Inkster until she took two shots to get out of a bunker at the 17th. She made triple-bogey seven and finished with a 73 for 3-under 141.
Annika Sorenstam shot a 71 and is five off the lead at 1 under after 36 holes, while Mexico's Lorena Ochoa is 3 over after a 73. Karrie Webb, winner of last week's Evian Masters, close to the French Alps, had a disastrous 82 and missed the cut by a long way at 14-over 158.
Sorenstam, who began at even par, made a charge from the sixth, when she birdied five out of six holes. Her chances of getting close to Inkster's score were hampered when her tee shot at the eighth hole landed in a pot bunker and she made a double-bogey six.
The Swede also had a bogey five at 17, where she had a double-bogey on Thursday.
Sorenstam won this title the last time it was played at Lytham three years ago. She won last month's U.S. Open for her 10th major.
"This golf course is really challenging and you have to really hit it on the number to be able to score here," Sorenstam said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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