Golf: Davies distances rivals

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The Independent Online
LAURA DAVIES continued her remarkable run on form on the European women's tour when she won the BMW Italian Open championship for a third time with a final round of 69 at the Frassanelle club here yesterday.

Davies completed her third victory of the season when her 14-under-par aggregate of 274 left her five strokes ahead of Sandrine Mendiburu, of France. Corinne Dibnah, the holder from Australia, and Sweden's Carin Hjalmarsson shared third place on 280.

A winner's cheque for pounds 16,500 lifted Davies to the top of the Order of Merit with earnings of pounds 64,397. Another pounds 65,000 has already been banked from her campaign in the United States where she has lost play-offs to Anne-Marie Palli and Nancy Lopez.

This week Davies will be attempting to win the British Open at Woburn for a second time. Davies has bettered par in 24 of the 31 rounds she has played in Europe this year. She is a collective 82 under par over this stretch with a stroke average of 69.87.

'I have never played golf like this in my life,' she said after her 14th tour victory. Yesterday she missed only one green in regulation when she had to drop from water for the one bogey of her round at the second hole.

This was a lapse which gave a glimmer of hope to Mendiburu who, out in 34, had drawn to within two strokes of Davies at the final turn. The Frenchwoman reduced her deficit to one stroke with a birdie at the long 10th hole.

Davies rose to the challenge. After Mendiburu dropped a shot at the 11th Davies holed from 20 feet for a birdie at the 13th before Mendiburu came back with a two at the 15th. Davies, however, was not to be denied. Her longest putt of the week, from 35 feet, yielded a birdie at the 17th before she coaxed home a 12-foot putt for another birdie on the final green.

BMW WOMEN'S ITALIAN OPEN (Padua) Leading final scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 274 L Davies 66 66 73 69. 279 S Mendiburu (Fr) 74 70 65 69. 280 C Hjalmarsson (Swe) 70 72 68 70; C Dibnah (Aus) 69 67 73 71. 282 S Gronberg (Swe) 71 71 71 69. 283 D Reid 72 72 69 70. 284 D Dowling 69 71 72 72. 285 V Michaud (Fr) 69 70 75 71; Li Wen Lin (Tai) 72 69 72 72; X Wunsch (Sp) 71 69 72 73; L A Mills (US) 70 69 72 74. 286 L Hackney 71 72 73 70; L Fairclough 70 68 74 74; M Lunn (Aus) 71 70 71 74; L Maritz (SA) 68 70 72 76 287; F Dassu (It) 74 72 74 67; K Douglas 72 73 74 68; K Espinasse (Fr) 68 75 75 69; A Nicholas 75 70 73 69; H Wadsworth 73 74 69 71.

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