Inkster still leads British; penalty puts Wie 10 back

Published August 5, 2006

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England - Juli Inkster maintained her lead at the Women's British Open, shooting par 72.

She was at 6-under 138 after two rounds, three better than Silvia Cavalleri. Inkster, 46, seeks to win her eighth major and become the oldest to win one.

But the drama of the day featured Michelle Wie, 16, whose bid to win her first tournament and become the youngest to win a major suffered a major blow. She was penalized for making contact with a piece of moss behind the ball during her backswing while hitting out of a greenside bunker at No. 14.

The sand clearly moved, and it was picked up by TV cameras and tournament officials. After Wie saved pars on her final two holes to shoot 72, two strokes were added to her score, leaving her at 4-over and 10 strokes behind Inkster.

"I knew I hit it, but I didn't think it would result in a penalty of two strokes," Wie said. "I thought if you hit dirt it would be okay, but I guess I knew the rule wrong. The par saves I made on 17 and 18 feel as though they count for nothing."

It's not the first time Wie has been penalized and found out later.

In her first pro event, October's World Championship, she took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie during her third round. At the end of the tournament, officials ruled she made her drop at the wrong place, should have taken a two-shot penalty and disqualified her for signing an incorrect card.

Asked if she would closely examine the rule book, Wie jokingly said, "Well, it is not actually great reading material, but I am going to definitely call a rules official if something questionable happens."

Inkster has won all seven of her majors in North America and confessed she appears to leave her game on the plane whenever she flew to England. In eight visits, her best result is a tie for 10th six years ago.

She then missed the cut twice, tied for 41st, tied for 25th and tied for 15th.

"I'm very happy with the way I played, the way I got it in, the way I got myself around this golf course," Inkster said. "(Today), if I drive the ball a little better on the par 5s, I'll feel pretty good."

Cavalleri, whose best finish is tied for third at the 2002 Corning Classic, was tied with Inkster until she took two shots to get out of a bunker at No. 17. She ended up with a triple bogey.

Annika Sorenstam shot 71 and is five back of Inkster while Lorena Ochoa is 3 over after shooting 73. Karrie Webb, winner of last week's Evian Masters, shot 82 and missed the cut.

Sorenstam, who began at par, birdied five of six holes starting at No. 6. Her chances of getting closer to Inkster were hampered when her tee shot at No. 8 landed in a pot bunker and she got a double bogey. She also bogied No. 17, where she had a double bogey on Thursday.

Sorenstam won the British the last time it was at Lytham three years ago. She also won last month's U.S. Open for her 10th major.

Se Ri Pak, a five-time major winner, including this year's LPGA Championship, withdrew with a neck injury. She shot 6-over 78 in the first round.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome made the cut after shooting 74. She's at 6-over 150, tied for 47th place, 12 strokes back.