If it weren't for the 16th hole, Rosie Jones would be the runaway leader of the LPGA Championship in Bethesda, Md.
Jones overcame a bogey on the troublesome par-3 hole Saturday to shoot a 1-under-par 70 and take a two-stroke lead over Cathy Johnston after three rounds in the LPGA's first $1 million tournament."Take away 16 and I've still parred 52 of 54 holes," Jones said. "That's playing some damn good golf."
Jones' exceptional play on the unyielding Bethesda Country Club course has been tempered by her performance on No. 16, a 195-yard hole with an uneven green surrounded by four bunkers. Jones had a seven on the hole Friday, costing her the tournament lead, and it was the scene of her only bogey on Saturday.
"Giving five shots away on one hole, yes, it ticks me off," she said.
After sinking her bogey putt on 16 Saturday, Jones threw her hands up in the air in a mock celebration.
"I feel like I'm way ahead of the hole now," she said. "Who knows, maybe I'll get a hole-in-one there tomorrow."
Jones parred the first 11 holes, then had birdies on Nos. 12 and 15 before running into trouble on 16. She put her tee shot into the rough and shanked her next attempt.
"It was a terrible chip shot," she admitted.
Jones put the next approach to within two feet of the hole and tapped in.
She parred the last two holes to finish at 4-under 209. She was the only player with three straight sub-par rounds and one of only four to stand under par after three rounds.
Johnston missed a four-foot putt for a bogey on No. 18 and finished at 71 for a 211 total.
"It was a fairly steady round," Johnston said. "I should have parred 18, though. The (two) other bogeys didn't bother me."
Dawn Coe, who shot a 68, and first-round leader Chris Johnson were at 212.
"I feel good about playing well again today after yesterday's disappointing round," said Johnson, who rebounded from Friday's 77 with a 68.
Cindy Figg-Currier and Deb Richard were at 213, and Beth Daniel and Ayako Okamoto were among a group of five at 214.
Pat Sheehan had a 71 for 216, Betsy King and Jan Stephenson were at 217 and defending champion Nancy Lopez had a 70 for 218.
Jones has 11 top-10 finishes this year but hasn't won a tournament since 1988. She had a five-stroke lead coming to 16 on Friday, but her quadruple bogey allowed Sue Ertl to take the lead at 5-under.
After leading the field for the first time in four years, Ertl opened her round with three bogeys and, after a birdie, then bogeyed four of the next six holes.
Ertl, who missed the green on six of the first seven holes, shot a 79 for a 216.
Figg-Currier, who shot a 73, fell off the pace when she four-putted on No. 5. She hit her first putt - a 25-footer - a bit strong and to the left. She then botched an 18-inch comebacker and blew a two-footer before finally settling for a double bogey.
Figg-Currier rebounded to birdie No. 6 and used birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 to move back into contention. But she fell back to par with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 18.At Grand Blanc, Mich., Hale Irwin, bidding for his third win in a month, shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday to maintain a 1-stroke lead after three rounds of the Buick Open.
Irwin, 45, who won the U.S. Open and the Buick Classic within a span of six day late in June, was at 17-under 199 after a bogey-free round of 67 at 7,014-yard Warwick Hills.
Billy Andrade was one shot back at 200 after a round of 66 and Fuzzy Zoeller was at 201, also with a 66.
Irwin's round included a brilliant birdie after driving behind a tree on the par-5 13th, a 490-yard hole that many golfers eagled. He faded a one-iron around the tree and onto the green, leaving himself an eight-foot putt.
Irwin, who started the day tied for the lead with Don Pooley, finished with a birdie on the 18th with a 6-iron to within six feet of the pin.
Pooley shot even-par 72 and dropped into a three-way tie for seventh with Robert Wrenn and Mike Sullivan at 204.
Doug Tewell was fourth at 202. Canadian Dave Barr and U.S. Open runnerup Mike Donald were at 203.
Andrade, whose best finish since turning pro in 1987 was a tie for second in the 1989 Buick Open, started the day 10-under.At Turnberry, Scotland, Deane Beman shot a 3-under-par 67 Saturday to take a three-shot lead over Arnold Palmer after three rounds of the Seniors British Open.
The 52-year-old commissioner of the U.S. PGA Tour had four birdies on his way to a three-round total of 10-under 200.
South African Harold Henning shot a tournament record 62 in hot, calm conditions but is still nine shots behind Beman.And at Newport, R.I., Lee Trevino dropped a 3-foot putt on the final hole for a 7-under-par 65 Saturday and took the opening-round lead in the $300,000 Newport Cup seniors golf tournament at Newport County Club.
Trevino, who has won six times this year in his first full season on the senior PGA tour, birdied six of the final nine holes in shooting a 30 on the back nine. It was his lowest 9-hole total since he became eligible for the senior tour last December.