Date: July 01, 2007

Doolan flies the flag

SPECIAL COVERAGE OF THE U.S. WOMEN&aposS OPEN: LISTEN TO THE AUSSIES: THIRD ROUND Wendy Doolan: click here Katherine Hull: click here

SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA: Sydney&aposs Wendy Doolan can partly thank a rib injury last year for putting her in a strong position going into the final round of the US Women&aposs Open. Unable to make a full swing while she recovered, 38-year-old Doolan set about honing her skills around the greens. This week the short-game practice has paid dividends at America&aposs biggest tournament. Doolan is the leading Australian, tied for 15th at two over par. “Actually my game has improved ever since I got hurt,” Doolan says. “I was out for quite a while and, 100 yards in, I&aposve worked really hard. I pride myself on my consistency.” A winner three times on the LPGA tour, Doolan hasn&apost tasted success since 2004. But this week, she has amassed more birdies than all but one of the five players atop the leaderboard late in the third round, which was suspended this morning (Australian time) as darkness fell and moments before a torrential downpour. The battle for Doolan, and the rest of the field in this toughest of tests in women&aposs golf, has been keeping bogeys and worse off the card. That&aposs been the case for 25-year-old Queenslander Katherine Hull. However, if she continues to play consistently, Hull is headed for her best finish in major championships. In five previous major appearances, she has never finished better than 50th. Here, she is tied for 35th. Both Australians appear to be too far from the lead to make a charge Doolan is seven shots behind the leader, 19-year-old Korean sensation Jiyai Shin, who has won her past three tournaments on the Korean women&aposs tour and is tipped to be the next Korean superstar from a country that fielded a phenomenal 35 players in this week&aposs championship. When play resumes tonight (Australian time), a birdie fest is on the cards following the latest downpour, which dumped nearly an inch (25mm) of rain on the course in about 20 minutes. With the fairways soft and balls plugging where they land on the greens in the final round, what had been planned as the toughest course set-up of the year will be virtually defenceless.