Originally created 08/15/98

Burton takes lead in Women's British Open



LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- The wind off the Irish Sea has made for two unforgiving rounds of golf at the Women's British Open. And lost in the mists was par.

It was simply nowhere in sight. Brandie Burton came closest Friday, with a 2-over 74 for a one-stroke lead halfwaythrough the tournament.

"I knew that something like this was going to happen on a golf course like this," Burton said. "And in these windyconditions and you've got to just roll with the punches."

Burton rolled, and threw few punches of her own at the Lytham St. Annes links course. She was on top at 1-over 145, withAmerican compatriot Leslie Spalding a stroke behind. Three players were another shot back.

The high scores were reminiscent of the U.S. Women's Open in July, whenregulation play ended with eventual champion Se Ri Pak and Jenny Chausiriporn tied at 6-over 290.

The big numbers also recalled a typical round of a men's British Open, where drizzle, cold and demanding links coursesunhinge the best of golfers.

"I managed to really keep my head which is really important on this golf course."

It was as if Burton were playing an entirely different game from the one two weeks ago at the Du Maurier Classic inCanada. She won the year's final major at 18-under.

Burton clearly had her rough spots Friday -- a bogey at No. 8 followed by a double bogey at No. 9, where she was pluggedin one bunker and then landed in another.

That predicament forced her to surrender her status as the only player under par. She also momentarily lost the outrightlead until a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 11 put her in front again.

"If there is a positive thing it's that, having made bogey at eight and double bogey at nine, I was able to hang inthere and keep pedaling away," Burton said.

Laura Davies pedaled her way right out of the tournament. Davies, who won this event in 1986 and considers it the mostimportant in the world, missed the cut by one stroke after her second 79 left her 14-over.

Se Ri Pak, winner of two majors and two more tournaments in her rookie season, is seven off the lead. She shot a 74 thatincluded her first birdie of the championship.

The 20-year-old South Korean pitched within 8 feet at the 320-yard 10th hole and sank the putt to end a run of 27 holeswith no birdies but eight bogeys.

"Yes, my first birdie," she said with a broad grin. "Today everything got better a little bit."

Spalding, who entered the field as an alternate, rolled in a 60-foot putt for a birdie at the 158-yard ninth and thenbirdied Nos. 11, 13 and 14 on the way to a 70.

"It's my first time here and I'm really thrilled," said Spalding, who made birdie putts from 10, 15 and 20 feet. "Ilike the tough conditions and I like the wind.

"I feel my game is on the way up," said Spalding, whose best finish on the LPGA tour is a share of 20th at the BigApple Classic at New Rochelle, N.Y., in July.

Wendy Ward, who won the Hawaiian Ladies Open in February for her second tour victory, carded a 71 for a 147. She is tiedwith Scotland's Janice Moodie and England's Suzanne Strudwick, who both shot 72s.

Betsy King, tied for the lead with Burton after the opening round, bogeyed the first four holes for a 77 and slipped tothree off the lead. She twice had to hack out of the long rough after pulling her tee shots off the narrow fairways.

"I was relieved to make the first par," said King, who followed it with the first of her two birdies and wound up at148.

Defending champion Karrie Webb of Australia shot a second straight 76 and is eight strokes off the lead.

At last year's British Open, in the sunshine at Sunningdale, Webb scored a championship record-low of 19-under 269. Thattied the mark for the biggest winning margin, eight strokes.

Forget 19-under this year. Par alone is more like it.