Meunier-Lebouc takes Brit Open lead

Originally Published: August 2, 2003
Associated Press

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Ten weeks into her pregnancy, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc is chasing her second major title of the year at the Women's British Open.

The Frenchwoman shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to lead Se Ri Pak and Wendy Ward by one stroke after three rounds. Meunier-Lebouc was at 10-under 206.

"I'm happy to get on the golf course and play," said Meunier-Lebouc, who is expecting her first child. "I have no choice. I know I feel I just have to enjoy being out there and hitting one shot after another."

Pak, a former champion and four-time major winner, and Ward each carded a 69 for 207. And Meunier-Lebouc also will have to shake Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.

Sorenstam, who won this year's LPGA Championship, is at 208, and Webb, the defending champion, is at 209.

Heather Bowie led by two strokes entering the day in her bid for her first pro title. But she tumbled from the Lytham St. Annes leaderboard when she lost her ball at the 11th hole and took a double-bogey 7. She wound up at 210, sharing sixth place.

Meunier-Lebouc was tested at the Kraft Nabisco in March. She led by two strokes halfway through and by three after the third round. She beat Sorenstam by one shot.

"I know it's tough to be leading in a major championship, but I've been that already in the one that I won," she said.

She birdied four of the first five holes, then added an eagle-3 at the sixth, where her 3-wood second shot wound up 5 feet from the hole.

"I felt a little better on course, but it's still tough," she said.

Sorenstam, a winner of five majors, had a 68 to move into contention. Webb, with six majors, shot a 70.

That means there are winners of a combined 16 majors in the top five on the leaderboard entering Sunday's final round, in which Sorenstam and Pak will be playing partners.

Sorenstam eagled the par-5 sixth by chipping in from 20 feet and added two more birdies in a bogey-free round.

"I'm back where I want to be -- having a chance to win the British Open," said the Swede, a three-time runner-up in this event. "I think right now I'm in the perfect spot. I will have played the same holes before which is a good thing."

Pak won this tournament two years ago at Sunningdale. The South Korean knows she should be leading but missed par putts at Nos. 17 and 18 and finished bogey-bogey.

At the last hole, her tee shot found a fairway bunker and she had to chip to the fairway. She hit a superb third shot to 15 feet but again misread the lie.

"I think I misread two in a row," Pak said. "I didn't much see the break, but the ball went to the right. But no matter what I miss or make, I'm in good shape."

Ward, who started out 6 under, picked up four birdies by the 10th. But she bogeyed the last hole when she missed the green with her second shot.

"It's frustrating ending with a bogey and having a 9-iron in your hands and missing the green," she said. "I just got a little aggressive with my approach and came over the top of it a little bit."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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