(Sun City, 20 January 2007) – Paraguay remain on course for a first Women’s World Cup of Golf title on their debut in the event following a tough day of foursomes at the Gary Player Country Club course on Saturday.
Julieta Granada and Celeste Troche carried a four-stroke lead into the foursomes and survived a grinding day on one of South Africa’s most demanding layouts to finish four ahead of Italy at two under par following their 75.
Italy’s Giulia Sergas and Veronica Zorzi combined for a 73 and a total of two over par. But it was the United States team of Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst who made the most significant run up the leaderboard.
Starting the day 10 strokes off the lead of Paraguay, Inkster and Hurst combined superbly to card the only sub-par round in the foursomes of two under 70, placing them third on three over.
The performance of Inkster and Hurst was a rare one on a day when most of the field struggled with a challenging set-up and a tricky wind.
“It was a very tough day,” said Troche. “Pars were a good score out there. We were burning the edges of the hole with birdie putts for most of the day and I think we just wanted it too much. But we hung in there for the birdies and then took one on 18.”
Troche’s 30-foot birdie putt at the last was one of only two birdies in their round, but did a lot for their mindset going into Sunday’s betterball.
“I think we managed to keep it together really well and that birdie at the last will give us a lot of momentum going into the last day,” said Granada.
Korea were the first casualties of the round. Starting the day as Paraguay’s nearest challengers four strokes off the pace, Ji Yai Shin and Young Kim were penalised two strokes on the first hole when a marshal moved an advertising board for Kim – though not at her request – and she played on despite the infringement.
Ladies European Tour rules official Andy Lott confirmed that if Kim had called an official at that stage, the board would have been replaced without penalty.
But as soon as she had played her shot, they incurred the penalty. That gave them an eight at the first and they went on to post a score of 77, placing them fourth at four over.
The difficulty of the conditions allowed Paraguay to drop shots but still retain a significant lead. The first was a classic example of this as Troche and Granada bogeyed the hole only to see their lead increase to five strokes as the rest of the field floundered behind them.
But the charge from the United States emerged on the back nine, where Inkster and Hurst came home in two under to give themselves an outside chance at victory.
“We ham and egged it pretty well all day,” said Inkster. “We weren’t in much trouble at all and played smart golf.” It certainly got the attention of Paraguay.
“I realised on the 12th that America were charging and I just said to Celeste that we need to hang in there,” said Granada. But Inkster was very clear on the American betterball strategy.
“We’ll just try and make as many birdies as we can. Neither Pat nor myself are the defending type. We’re pretty aggressive players and we’ve got nothing to lose.”
And Troche echoed this approach. “We’re taking nothing for granted. There will be a lot of low scores out there on the final day and we need to make sure we are one of them.”
The South African team of Laurette Maritz and Ashleigh Simon endured another frustrating day, which saw them finish tied 16th on 19 over par following a foursomes score of 78.
Simon admitted afterwards that Sunday’s betterball will be a case of playing “go big or go home golf” if they hope to avoid their worst finish in the three-year history of this event. The duo finished 12th in the inaugural event and then seventh last year.
"We’ll go out there and just play for birdies, and hopefully we can move up as far as we can on the leaderboard,” said Simon.