Inbee Park has 1-shot lead at Royal Birkdale

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm •  Published: July 12, 2014
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SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — One year later, Inbee Park is still chasing history at the Women's British Open.

Instead of trying to win an unprecedented fourth straight major, Park has a chance to become only the seventh woman to win four of the LPGA's majors. Instead of photographers capturing her every move at St. Andrews, the 26-year-old South Korean has gone about her work without fanfare at Royal Birkdale.

That changed Saturday with a remarkable start, and a late ruling that put Park in the lead.

On the tough opening stretch at Royal Birkdale, she ran off three birdies that sent her to a 4-under 68. Then, Park went from a one-shot deficit to a one-shot lead when Ahn Sun-Ju was penalized two shots after her round for building a stance in the bunker on the 18th hole.

"I definitely enjoyed it last year," Park said. "But this year has just been a little bit different. Last year I enjoyed it and having pressure and experiencing something I never have experienced before. If I end up winning tomorrow, I'll definitely enjoy this year better."

The 18 holes remaining could be a sprint among a dozen players.

Park had a one-shot lead over a pair of major champions — Suzann Pettersen of Norway (68) and Shanshan Feng of China (69) — along with Ahn. Julieta Granada (72) and Amelia Lewis (71) were another shot behind.

Ahn appeared to be the player to catch after what she thought was a 69 for a one-shot lead.

She was summoned to the rules trailer, where officials determined she used her left foot to build her stance in a pot bunker left of the 18th green. Ahn was assessed two shots for violating Rule 13-3. Her par turned into a double bogey. Her 69 became a 71. And she went from a one-shot lead in the final group to having to make up ground against Park, the LPGA Tour's reigning player of the year.

"It's disappointing, but it's my mistake and I have to follow the rules of the game," Ahn said through an interpreter. "I still have a day to go and I have to stay focused and try my best tomorrow."

The penalty also created a wide-open final round at Royal Birkdale.

Park was at 4-under 212, though 12 players were within three shots of the lead.

One of them was Charley Hull, the go-for-broke English teenager who made nine birdies early Saturday for a tournament-best 66 that suddenly put her into contention to become the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history. She was at 1-under 215.