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Notebook: Showing 'Em How It Is Done

By Alex Miceli

South Hadley, Mass. -- Making a birdie on the most difficult hole on the course isn't easy.

But Sweden's Liselotte Neumann showed the field the way Saturday. On the long par-4 16th,  Neumann, at 3 over, needed to make something happen coming in. She did so with the first birdie on 16 for the day.

Of the next 22 players, eight followed Neumann's lead by making birdie. Outright leader Jennifer Rosales, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins followed suit.

Neumann went on to follow up her birdie with another one on the par-3 17th, before trying for the hat trick on the par-4 18th. But the golf gods kept the ball on the edge. It was a remarkable finish considering that over the first two rounds Neumann was 4-over on the difficult three-hole stretch. 

"That was pretty good," said Neumann of her feat. "I' haven't played those last holes very good, so that was very strong."

The three-hole finish at The Orchards has been a difficult stretch. The converted par-4 16th had played as the most difficult over the first two rounds and the par-4 18th as the second-most difficult. 

Holes For Sunday

With Jennifer Rosales holding a three-shot lead, pursuers will be looking for any help they can get. A glance at the hole locations for Sunday's final round, players will find a similar setup as the last three days -- not overly penal, but not a piece of cake either. 

According to Tom Meeks, Senior Director of Rules and Competitions for the USGA, the importance is to balance out the hole locations left and right.  For Sunday Meeks has set eight holes left, nine holes right and one dead center. 

Of course with every round there are some holes the players want to think twice about.  Both the third and 18th are relatively easy, but the front greenside bunker will get some action on each hole. 

In some cases the holes may be put in some more difficult places after the cut. That was the case on the 12th, where the front was used on the weekend, front-right for the third round and front-left for Sunday. Also, the 17th will see a right hole location that could bring the high grass in play.

One hole location that Meeks believes will be extremely difficult is on No. 6. With the hole on a ledge, anyone getting it close will be a magician.

Leading Makes All The Difference

Rosales' three-shot cushion should hold up Sunday. In the last eight Women's Opens, seven of the 54-hole leaders have gone on to win. The one exception was Annika Sorenstam, who had a two-shot lead over Juli Inkster in 2002 at Prairie Dunes and could not hold off her off.

But Sorenstam has come from behind in the Women's Open.  In 1995 at Pine Needles, Sorenstam was five shots back of Meg Mallon and carded a final-round 68 for her first win on the LPGA Tour.

Possible Problems

Rosales has had few problems over the first three rounds.  With the exception of driving distance, where she ranks 36th with a 237.7 average and 20th in fairways hit (32 of 42), Rosales is in the top 12 of all other statistical categories.  She is ranked fifth in greens with 40 of 54, 12th in putting with 88 putts over three rounds, and third in birdies with 12. 

That said, she has had some difficulty over the starting holes at The Orchards.  Over the first three rounds, Rosales has stumbled at least once on each of the four starting holes and is 4 over in that stretch. Even the last three holes don't play as difficult for her. She's even par in that stretch. 

Alex Miceli is a free-lance writer for the Golf Press Association.