Bunkowsky swings club of choice 7-wood carries her to 3 shots off lead LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP

June 13, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

BETHESDA -- Comfortable surroundings and the tour's lates "super club" have helped Barb Bunkowsky jump into contention in the LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club.

Bunkowsky, who has had a largely indifferent season -- the 11th on tour for the 34-year-old from Burlington, Ontario -- so far, made two birdies in shooting 2-under 69 for a three-round total of 207, three back of leader Jenny Lidback.

"The conditions were perfect, and I love this course; it reminds me of the ones at home."

For the round, she hit the ball well on the front nine, scrambled for several holes on the back, then finished with routine pars over the last five holes. The birdies were on putts of six feet at the second and 15 feet at the eighth.

She set herself up for a par-birdie-par start with 7-wood shots to the green, and later added her voice to a growing group of players.

"The Callaway rep was on the range at one tournament a couple of months ago and told me to get that 3-iron out of my bag and put in the 7-wood.

"It's the greatest. Instead of being concerned about hitting a long iron shot from a bad lie, I simply swing the 7-wood and know I don't have to worry about getting it out of such places as heavy rough."

Others with similar 7-woods in their bags include Lidback and third-year pro Pearl Sinn, who is even with par for three rounds.

"I went to that 7-wood a month ago. It's the greatest club, so easy to hit. In that last month, it has saved me so many shots, because I was so inconsistent with the 3-iron."

A teacher's point of view

Diane Daugherty is making her third LPGA Championship appearance in four years, but she comes in with a slightly different attitude than the tour players.

Daugherty has been the women's golf coach at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for the past seven years and has qualified for this tournament by winning her Teaching Division section title.

"The first year, 1990, I got caught up in the aura, the 40th anniversary celebration, and played poorly," she said. "I made the cut the next year, and my goal coming in this time was to make the cut."

She carved out rounds of 73-72--145 to make the cut on the nose, then shot 75 in the third round.

"It may not be the same as the regular tour players, but you do feel pressure," she said. "You want to represent the division well, and what you do reflects on it.

"A golf course can be the best place or the loneliest, and it was real lonely for me for the first six holes, before I settled down." She played

the last 12 holes 1-under par.

Course's bark worse than bite

During the week, there have been quite a few players with negative comments about the changes, especially the six new greens, at Bethesda CC. It turns out this might be another case of trouble in the eyes of the beholder.

A survey taken by NBC used the six new holes (Nos. 1, 10 through 13, and 15) and compared scores of the field for the first two days of a year ago and of this year.

The result: "It was within one one-hundredth of a stroke, plus or minus," said Dean Graves, Bethesda CC superintendent. "And part of the slight difference was the fact No. 12, a short par 5, played downwind Friday and yielded a lot of eagles."

Later, Graves said the primary concern for the championship was the consistency of the old and new greens. The capacity to hold a shot is similar, and the putting speed is comparable. The height of the grass on the six new greens has been lowered to provide uniform surfaces.

Scoring conditions were ideal for the third round -- no wind, greens holding so players could shoot for the flagsticks, and the greens were relatively slow, or at least not the scary fast of past years.

Of 70 players, there were 15 rounds in the 60s, topped by a 5-under-par 66 by Lauri Merten, an 11-year pro from suburban Wilmington, Del.

The 66, one shot off her career best, vaulted her to 4-under-par 209, five shots off the pace of Lidback.

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