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August 3, 2013

Inbee Park falls 8 shots behind at St. Andrews

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Before she can think of four in a row, Inbee Park first has to make up an eight-shot deficit at the Women’s British Open.

Playing in the strongest wind this week, she had a pair of three-putt bogeys in a round of 1-over 73 that left her closer to the cut line than the lead.

Those rugged conditions Friday afternoon were no problem for Na Yeon Choi. She had a 5-under 67 — nearly nine shots lower than the field average for the afternoon — and had a one-shot lead over Miki Saiki of Japan. Saiki set the Old Course record for the Women’s British Open at 6-under 66 in the morning, which featured bursts of showers but very little wind until late in the round.

Conditions were so demanding that when Choi was asked to give details of her six birdies, she couldn’t recall much further back than the 17th hole.

“Five hours out there, this kind of weather, it’s hard to remember,” she said.

It’s a round Park would like to forget, one that will make her quest even more difficult to become the first golfer to win four professional majors in one year.

The wind carried her approach across the Swilcan Burn and through the green on the opening hole, and from about 50 feet away hit a poor chip that only got halfway there and led to a bogey. The 25-year-old South Korean was never under par for her round.

Still even par for the round after a 6-foot birdie on No. 12, she hit her best drive of the day on the toughest driving hole into the wind at No. 13, only for the ball to take one last turn and settle in a divot. Park came up just short of the green, rolled a putt about 10 feet by the cup and missed it for bogey. On the 17th, her shot skirted up left side of the Road Hole Bunker and onto the green, some 50 feet away.

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