Jan Stephenson survived steamy Cedar Ridge Country Club with a scrambling par round of 71 today to seize the 54-hole lead of U.S. Women's Open with a three-over-par 216 total. Stephenson, the 1982 LPGA Classic champion who never has won the Open, leads by two shots over Debbie Meisterlin and Patty Sheehan, who were at 218.
Sheehan, the current LGPA champion, led by three strokes when play began. She shot 76 today and Meisterlin 73.
Temperatures around 100 degrees, 63 percent humdity and a late afternoon thundershower that delayed play 10 minutes turned the course into a sauna.
Stephenson, 32, an Australian who now lives in Fort Worth, went out in even par 36, then matched par 35 on the homecoming nine. She put in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole but gave it back to par with a three-putt 15th green.
Stephenson bunkered her tee shot on the rugged 400-yard par-4 No. 17, sent her second shot wide of the green and wedged within 15 feet. She slipped the downhill putt into the side of the hole for a saving par.
Pat Bradley, the 1981 Open champion, shot a record-tying five-under-par 31 on the front nine that included a hole in one, but then found trouble.
Bradley put a five-iron shot in the hole on the 145-yard par-3 No. 6 as she tied Judy Bell's U.S. Open nine-hole record, set in 1964 at San Diego. However, Bradley had a five-over-par 40 on the back nine, including three putts from 15 feet on the final green. Her round of 71 put her at 219 along with Lauren Howe, who had 76.
"The wheels came off at the 11th hole," said Bradley. "I knocked it in the hazard there and when the rains came I couldn't get my momentum back. It was kind of a bittersweet round, I guess. Thank goodness there is tomorrow."