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Alfredsson's hot hand gives her Open lead Sets 54-hole record; McGann falls back


CARMEL, Ind. -- Helen Alfredsson, in and out of the lead during the first two rounds of the 48th U.S. Women's Open championship, took charge with a record performance yesterday.

Her 3-under-par 69 gave her a record 54-hole total of 207, erasing the previous mark of 208 (7 under par) set in 1980 by Amy Alcott at Richland Country Club in Nashville, Tenn., and tied in 1988 by Liselotte Neumann at Baltimore Country Club in 1988.

Alfredsson's 9-under for three rounds over the 6,311-yard Crooked Stick Golf Club course put her two shots clear of her closest pursuer, Hiromi Kobayashi, who shot a 71.

"I was striking the ball pretty well, and good iron play got me close on a lot of the holes," said Alfredsson, who won her first tour title at the Nabisco Dinah Shore in April. "You have to try and use the contours of the greens to let the ball roll close to the holes."

Alfredsson's charge to the top was aided by the leader after two rounds, Michelle McGann. She bogeyed the first four holes, and settled for a 78, leaving her at 214.

For many players, though, it was a day for sub-par scoring. There were 22 sub-par rounds, including eight in the 60s. Pat Bradley had the low, a 68, and it moved her to 6-under-par 210, where she is tied with Donna Andrews, 69-210. Three more are at 21l -- Nancy Lopez, Ayako Okamoto and Dina Ammaccapane.

Alfredsson, 28, highlighted her round by going birdie-birdie-eagle Nos. 7, 8 and 9. At the 435-yard, par-5 ninth, she ripped a 4-iron shot 188 yards to five feet and rolled in the putt to dip 10-under par.

She bogeyed the 10th after hooking her drive into the rough; birdied the 17th from five feet, then bogeyed the 18th after hooking her drive and putting her second into a bunker left of the green.

She didn't want to talk about today's final round.

"I try not to think ahead," she said. "You get what you can out of each round and try not to get frustrated. You need patience and composure -- pick a target and hit it.

"You learn in the majors to be patient, not to get too anxious. The worst thing is when you try and force things. It doesn't work."

At the Dinah Shore, the U.S. International University graduate from Sweden was tied with Betsy King and Dawn Coe-Jones going to the last round. She shot par-72 to win by two.

Kobayashi, who last week joined Chako Higuchi and Okamoto as the only Japanese winners on the LPGA tour, admitted to being more nervous here.

"I think because it is the Open I want to play well," she said. "Too much thinking. Too nervous. Put too much pressure on myself."

Kobayashi, 30, birdied three of the four par-5s to set up her round. She ended with four birdies and three bogeys.

Bradley, who has been in this position many times, had five birdies and one bogey. Andrews, 26, a fourth-year pro, highlighted her round with birdies at Nos. 7, 8 and 9, two of them on putts in the 30-foot range.

"I shot 65 in the last round at Youngstown last week [tied for 19th], and I came here trying to keep that type of game," Andrews said. "I had expectations of playing well, and then I got the putter going. And there were only three, four bad swings all day."

McGann couldn't say the same. Although she didn't want to use it as an excuse, she said a diabetic reaction contributed to her poor round.

"You're the leader, you get psyched up, and you kinda forget about taking care of yourself," said McGann, who is an insulin-dependent diabetic. "But you can't forget it.

"For a while, I couldn't feel my legs. I wasn't moving them and that little bit threw the swings off. Not moving the legs is one of the side effects of a reaction. . . . Maybe next time, I'll eat a little bit more and take a little less insulin."

Still, she was on her way back, getting to 5-under, before a chip shot hit a sprinkler head and caromed into a bunker, leading to a double bogey at No. 11. "That kind of let the steam out, and I got frustrated after that."

For the round, she had an eagle, three birdies, five pars, seven bogeys, and two double bogeys.

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