Date: August 03, 2008

Fudoh on track for victory

Japan&aposs Yuri Fodoh, winner of 45 titles and a mind-blowing one thousand million yen in her own country, is on course for her first overseas victory at Sunningdale on Sunday. The 31-year-old, whose earnings convert to just under $10million, takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Ricoh Women&aposs British Open. And with defending champion and world number one Lorena Ochoa falling six behind after three bogeys in the last eight holes of her third round, it is shaping up into an all-Asian battle for the $350,000 first prize. Karrie Webb is the best place Australian, currently sitting in a tie for 15th place at six-under par for the tournament. It will almost certainly be devoid of a European element. German Anja Monke is the only player in the top 18 and she is joint 15th seven strokes behind. With Bernhard Langer&aposs 67-year-old former caddie Peter Coleman on her bag and steering her around the Old Course, Fudoh shot a 69 for a 13 under par total of 203. South Korean Ji-Yai Shih, already with 21 professional wins in Asia to her name at the age of 20, is in second place after bogeying the last, while Fudoh&aposs compatriot Ai Miyazato is third at 11 under. There is still a chance, though, that the final round will see 48-year-old Juli Inkster become the oldest-ever winner of a women&aposs major. Inkster leapt back into the lead with an eagle-birdie start to her day, but played the remaining holes in two over for a 71 that left her three behind in joint fourth place with fellow American Cristie Kerr, last year&aposs US Open champion. Ochoa was only one behind after going to the turn in 32, but she dropped shots at the 11th, 15th and 18th and said after her 71: “I started hitting the ball really bad off the tee and got myself in trouble. “I was slicing it a little bit and it was one of those days. I&aposm glad it&aposs done, but I still managed under par. “I just tried to be patient. It was a tough day, but I&aposm okay. It&aposs only the third round.” Fudoh against Shin in the final group is a meeting of two of the smallest players in the game. They stand 5ft 1in and 5ft 2in respectively. But lack of height has certainly not held them back in their careers. Fudoh was leading money-winner on the Japanese circuit six times in a row from 2000 to 2005 and this is the third year in a row that Coleman has caddied for her at the event. “I say what club to hit, ask her if she feels good about it and she&aposs not disagreed once,” he said. Shih had 10 victories in just 19 starts last year and her success follows a family tragedy in 2004 when her mother was killed in a car crash that also left her sister and brother in hospital for almost a year. Meanwhile, Annika Sorenstam&aposs retirement from golf at the end of the year will not stop her from becoming Solheim Cup captain in the future. “Absolutely – it would be a tremendous honour,” said the 37-year-old Swede, whose third round 70 in her final major kept her deep in the pack at two under. “I would not want to do it as soon as 2011, but 2013 or later. “I&aposve been asked about being the captain, but I don&apost know what the plans are. There are other players in line, I&aposm sure.” England&aposs Alison Nicholas has been awarded the captaincy for next year&aposs match in America and could well be succeeded by her former partner Laura Davies, with Sorenstam to follow that. The 10-time major winner and current world number two, who is quitting to concentrate on other business interests and possibly to start a family, is the record points-scorer in cup history. She earned her eighth cap in her home country last year and with two wins and a half took her total haul to 24 points, one more than Davies. Fudoh said: “I followed my caddie&aposs advice and played without pressure compared to the last two days. “Right now I don&apost know if this is a real thing or not, but I hope I can play like that tomorrow.” British Open Round 3: -13: Yuri Fudoh 66 68 69 -12: Ji-Yai Shin 66 68 70 -11: Ai Miyazato 68 69 68 -10: Cristie Kerr 71 65, Juli Inkster 65 70 71 -9: Mi Hyun Kim 70 70 67, Yani Tseng 70 69 68, Eun-Hee Ji 68 70 69, Natalie Gulbis 69 68 70 -8: Na Yeon Choi 69 71 68, Momoko Ueda 66 72 70, Lorena Ochoa 69 68 71 -7: Hee Young Park 69 71 69, Seon Hwa Lee 71 68 70 -6: Karrie Webb (Australia) 72 69 69, Anja Monke 73 67 70, Ji Young Oh 66 73 71, Bo Bae Song 68 68 74 Also: -5: Katherine Hull (Australia) 69 73 69 -1: Joanne Mills (Australia) 70 73 72 E: Rachel Hetherington (Australia) 70 72 74