Neumann Takes Outright Lead


2004 Asahi Ryokuken International ClassicNORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Liselotte Neumann posted a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take the lead through three rounds of the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. She stands at 11-under-par 205 and is one stroke ahead of Becky Morgan of Wales.
Neumann has 12 LPGA Tour victories, but none since the 1998 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. She has won four of the last five times she has held the lead with one round to go and the Swede thinks she can visit the winner's circle again.
'I will be nervous tomorrow,' said Neumann, who won the 1988 U.S. Women's Open in her rookie season. 'It would obviously be a wonderful feeling. We'll see what happens.'
Morgan overcame an early bogey to shoot a 2-under 70 on Saturday.
Sophie Gustafson (66), Grace Park (68), Cristie Kerr (70) and Laura Davies (70) are tied for third place. The group is knotted at 8-under-par 208 at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club.
Neumann wasted little time in breaking into red figures. She hit an 8-iron to 28 feet and made the birdie putt. Neumann hit a 6-iron to 3 feet to set up a tap-in birdie at the par-3 third, but did not take over the top spot on the leaderboard until Donna Andrews, one of three co-leaders after the second round with Neumann and Morgan, bogeyed the fourth.
Neumann extended her advantage at the 10th when she knocked a 9-wood to 25 feet and holed the birdie putt. She added to her lead at the par-5 12th when her third shot with a sand-wedge stopped 5 feet from the hole and she sank the birdie try.
The Swede found trouble at the par-3 15th. Her 6-iron tee shot missed the green left, and she was forced to chip sideways because her ball was near a tree. Neumann chipped to 5 feet, but missed the par putt.
Neumann made some nice saves on her way into the clubhouse. Her 7-iron approach missed the putting surface to the right of 17. Neumann chipped 7 feet short, but made the putt to keep her one-shot lead over Morgan.
'I was trying to be patient out there today and tried to post a good number out there,' said Neumann. 'It's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it out there and being in the last group, it's a great feeling.'
Morgan stumbled out of the block at the fourth. Her drive landed in a fairway bunker and her approach came up short of the green. Morgan could not save par, but that would be the last mistake for the 30-year-old, who is winless on the LPGA Tour.
She ran in a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-5 sixth, then took advantage of the remaining par-5s at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club. Morgan wedged her approach to 8 feet to set up birdie at the 12th, then fell short of the green with a 3-wood at the 16th. She chipped to 20 feet and drained the birdie putt to get within one shot of Neumann's lead.
'This is the most confident that I have felt going into the last round,' said Neumann. 'I have had a couple of close finishes this year. I'm feeling a little proud of myself and on the other hand disjointed. It would be my next step in golf to win. I'm pretty happy.'
Andrews struggled on the back nine with one bogey and eight pars. She shot a 1-over 73 and is tied for seventh with Laura Diaz (66) and Kris Tschetter (67) at 7-under-par 209.
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