Sports roundup: Keselowski wins in New Hampshire, Park leading women’s British Open
LOUDON, N.H. — Brad Keselowski had a couple of impressive performances at New Hampshire. It’s the victory celebration that again gave him fits.
Keselowski topped all the fields Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, including a dominant run in his Nationwide Series victory. Keselowski also led the speed charts during both Sprint Cup practices. Throw in the pole for the Nationwide race and that made the Team Penske driver a neat 4 for 4.
“Well a hell of a Saturday,” Keselowski said.
His only hiccup came when he dropped the American flag out of his No. 22 Ford. The flag rested on the track before it was retrieved by an official to let the victory celebration continue.
“It was really windy and my hand’s been sore,” he said. “I took my hand off the flag for the second and the wind ripped it out. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.”
Keselowski still needs work on his victory laps. He needed four stitches to close a wound he received during his Victory Lane celebration in the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. He tried to open the bottle of champagne by hitting it against a podium, and the bottle broke and cut his hand.
Keselowski led 153 of the 200 laps in his second Nationwide win of the season. He also won at Phoenix and hasn’t finished worse than third in six races this season.
“I enjoy this series and feel lucky I am allowed to compete in it,” he said.
He is a star off the track, as well — Keselowski appears as himself Tuesday on the “Sullivan & Son” show on TBS.
Kyle Busch avoided disaster late in the race when he connected with James Buescher trying to make an outside pass and finished second. He starts on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race.
Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher completed the top five.
Regan Smith was seventh and won $100,000 in the first event in the four-race “Dash 4 Cash” program that could award up to $1 million to a series regular.
Smith, the series points leader, was presented with an oversized check on pit road and joked he wanted to make an immediate bank deposit.
“We struggled in traffic more than we needed to and I guess we’ve got to figure that out soon because we’ve got a championship race here,” Smith said. “The side note today is the $100,000.”
Not a bad consolation prize.
Late ruling gives
Park British lead
SOUTHPORT, England — A late ruling took Inbee Park from one shot behind to leading the Women’s British Open on Saturday, the slightest head start in her quest to become only the seventh player to win four of the LPGA Tour’s major championships.
Park handled the tough opening stretch at Royal Birkdale with three birdies and shot a 4-under 68, giving her a one-shot lead over fellow major champions Suzann Pettersen of Norway (68) and Shanshan Feng of China (69), along with Ahn Sun-Ju of South Korea.
Ahn appeared to be the player to chase after what she thought was a 69 for a one-shot lead.
She was summoned to the rules trailer, where officials determined she used her left foot to build her stance in a pot bunker left of the 18th green. Ahn was assessed two shots for violating Rule 13-3. Her par turned into a double bogey. Her 69 became a 71. And she went from a one-shot lead in the final group to having to make up ground against Park, the LPGA Tour’s reigning player of the year.
The penalty also created a wide-open final round at Royal Birkdale.
Park was at 4-under 212, though a dozen players were within three shots of the lead.
One of them was Charley Hull, the go-for-broke English teenager who made nine birdies early Saturday for a tournament-best 66 that suddenly put her into contention to become the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history. She was at 1-under 215.
Also in the mix was Mo Martin, the 31-year-old American done in by a four-hole stretch on the back nine that sent her to a 77. She also was at 215, along with former U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, who made one bad decision and one bad swing, both leading to double bogey.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 70 and was three shots behind.
Park has been virtually ignored all week, a huge change from a year ago.
The 26-year-old South Korean had a chance at St. Andrews last summer to become the first player, male or female, to win four straight majors in one season. The pressure and attention was enormous, and she wound up in the middle of the pack.
“I didn’t have much pressure,” she said of her week at Royal Birkdale. “Really just try to play my own golf. Yeah, I start to feel a little bit of pressure from now and tomorrow. But I’d rather be having the pressure than not being in contention.”
Ahn took the outright lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, and was poised to stretch the margin. Her approach into the par-5 17th was a yard too far to the right and barely tumbled into a bunker, forcing her to stand on the edge and stoop over to player shot from the sand. She made par.
And her penalty on the 18th began with a photographer who took a sequence of pictures at the top of her swing on her second shot. She caught it heavy and pulled it left, into the bunker, as she and her caddie looked back to see who was the culprit.
She blasted out of the sand and over the green, and did well to get down in two putts. Only later did officials determine she had built her stance.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s my mistake and I have to follow the rules of the game,” Ahn said through an interpreter. “I still have a day to go and I have to stay focused and try my best tomorrow.”
She said the ball was on the slope of the bunker and it was hard to make a stance.
“So what I was trying to do was fix a stance,” she said. “But after the review, it was determined that I used my feet to try to make an even lie. My intent wasn’t to break the rules. It was just to set my feet firm in the sand just to be able to make the shot. But that’s the rule. There was no intent and I can’t do anything about it.”
A one-shot lead is next to nothing in golf. Three shots can disappear quickly. And what could make this Women’s British Open go down to the wire is the finish at Royal Birkdale — three par 5s over the last four holes.
“You can make a double so quick on this golf course that you’ve just got to keep hanging in there,” Lewis said. “I you get in trouble, get out, and just stay patient. If you make a bogey, it’s OK, because you’ve got some par-5 finishing holes here.”
Martin opened with two bogeys, got them back with a pair of birdies, and then imploded with a double bogey at No. 12, followed by three straight bogeys. Ryu also squandered a good chance. She tried to hit a hybrid out of the rough on No. 13 and pulled it into a burn. From 118 yards out in the 16th fairway, she hit a poor wedge right of the green, knocked that 35 feet away and three-putted for another double bogey.
All of them are still very much in the hunt.
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