ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND: Inbee Park wanted tough conditions at St. Andrews to try to make up an 8-shot deficit in her pursuit of a fourth straight major.
It turned out to be too tough for anyone.
The third round of the Women’s British Open was suspended Saturday by gusts that topped 40 mph and kept golf balls from staying put on the greens. After waiting six hours for the wind to calm, players were told to return this morning for a marathon finish.
Whether that becomes a huge break for the leaders — Na Yeon Choi at 10-under 134 was an hour away from teeing off — won’t be known until today.
“It’s still going to be windy tomorrow — not, hopefully, as windy as it’s been today, but there’s no letup in it,” said Susan Simpson, head of operations for the Ladies Golf Union. “It’s still going to be very breezy and equally difficult conditions.”
Nine players who completed the third round had an average score of 78.2. Cristie Kerr and Lydia Ko each had a 75, the best of those who finished. Rikako Morita shot 86. The cumulative nine-hole scores for the 20 players who at least made the turn was 54 over par.
There were 508 holes played, and only 26 birdies.
Park is trying to become the first golfer, male or female, to win four straight professional majors in the same season. Her hope was for a steady round in raging wind and for the leading players to lose ground. Park was 1 under through four holes, making a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 3.
But it was her par on the fourth hole that helped make officials realize it was time to stop. The ball moved from its position from a gust, and Park called for a ruling to make sure she could replace it as long as she didn’t address the ball.
Simpson said it wasn’t Park’s ruling alone.
“The time frame for the balls actually moving was very short,” Simpson said. “We got five calls, all in the space of a few minutes. ... There was a gust of almost 40 mph, and with that singular gust, all the balls started to move on the five calls that we had. And we suspended play immediately.”
The most impressive round belonged to Anna Nordqvist, who was 1 under through 15 holes. Danielle Kang was even through 11 holes.
Gary Woodland holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle and hit an approach shot from the fairway to 2 inches for one of his six birdies to take the third-round lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada with 37 points in the modified Stableford scoring system.
Brandon Steele vaulted into second place with 30 points. He played the last six holes in 7 under par under a traditional format, capping five consecutive birdies with a 33-foot chip-in for eagle on the 616-yard 18th at Montreux Golf Club.
The scoring system awards eight points for eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double-bogey or worse.
David Mathis was third with 29, followed by second-round leader Andres Romero at 27, Charlie Wi at 25, Dickey Pride 24 and Rory Sabbatini 23.
Tom Pernice Jr. moved into position for his second Champions Tour title, shooting a 7-under 65 to take a 2-stroke lead over Tom Kite in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.
He had a 13-under 131 total at the TPC Twin Cities after opening with a 66. The two-time PGA Tour winner had four straight birdies on the front nine, and added two more on Nos. 10 and 12.
However, his approach shot on the par-4 14th buried in the bank of a hazard in front of the green. After a drop in the fairway, his next shot landed about 40 feet short of the hole. Likely facing a double bogey at best, Pernice instead curled in the long putt.
“You’re not really thinking about making it. I just hit a good putt and it rolled right in perfectly,” he said.
With the momentum, he then birdied Nos. 15 and 18.
Playing in the tournament for the first time, the 53-year-old Pernice will likely need to shoot a similar score today to win his first tour event since the 2009 SAS Championship. He has been close this year, with two second-place finishes and three thirds in his 14 previous starts.
The 63-year-old Kite, trying to become the oldest winner in the history of the 50-and-over tour, also shot 65 — his lowest score at the course in five years. He birdied No. 2 and finished his front nine by going eagle-birdie-birdie to get to 9 under, and birdied Nos. 11 and 18, missing a 25-foot eagle putt on the finishing hole by less than a foot.
Jay Don Blake, Rod Spittle and Corey Pavin were 3 strokes back at 10 under. Blake and Rod Spittle shot 66, and Pavin had a 69.
First-round leader Mark Wiebe, the Senior British Open winner Monday in a playoff, followed his opening 64 with a 71 to fall into a tie for sixth at 9 under.