Davies charges on

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The Independent Online

reports from Zell-am-See

For a second consecutive week Britain's Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam from Sweden are shaping up towards a battle for another European title, following the early stages of the second round in the OVB Austrian Open here yesterday.

Both had to go out in the heavy morning rain, but made light work of the difficulties it caused. Sorenstam shot a 69 for an 11-under-par total of 135, with Davies, who beat her into second place in France last weekend, just two strokes behind following a 67.

It left Sorenstam sharing the lead with Evelyn Orley from Switzerland, one of the early afternoon starters who birdied the last hole for a 67, making the most of the better conditions after the rain.

Davies produced a staggering closing eagle at the 479-yard ninth, her last hole, where she hit a monumental drive which she followed with a 163-yard six iron to within a yard of the flag for her three.

Only once did Davies exceed par as she moved into contention for a fourth win of what is already another remarkable season. Her round of 67 makes her a staggering 34 under par for her last eight tournament rounds.

Sorenstam, the Australian Open champion, had set the target ahead of Davies. She has finished second twice in America this year as well as in France last week.

Yesterday she dropped only one shot, when she found sand at the short seventh hole.

Orley's only tour win was in 1990 but she did finish second in Portugal earlier this season. A former British girls' champion, she gathered four birdies in a homeward run of 33 to join Sorenstam.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 24