Golf: Davies drives on

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S Laura Davies continued on automatic pilot here yesterday when a ninth consecutive under-par round - a five-under 68, equalling the course record - left her sharing the lead in the IBM Open over the Haninge course.

Davies, the former British and US Open champion and winner twice in Europe this year, pulled alongside Sweden's Helen Alfredsson who also matched the course record. They lead by one stroke from Annika Sorenstam, a losing finalist in the US Amateur Championship earlier this month.

Davies and Alfredsson have between them played 40 tournaments in the United States this year and their sharpness has shone like a beacon. Alfredsson never exceeded par in her round while Davies gathered only one bogey, a five at the fifth hole where she missed a putt of six feet for her four.

Davies is an astonishing 52 under par for her last 16 rounds in Europe and made up ground with a fine homeward run of 32, five under. She holed from six feet for a birdie at the 10th then devoured the 11th (470 yards) and the 13th (436 yards) in turn with seven and six-iron second shots for two more birdies.

At the long 18th Davies struck a second shot with a driver 236 yards carry over water to the edge of the green, chipped to five feet, only to miss her putt and squander the chance of the outright lead. None the less it was an impressive performance.

Trish Johnson dispelled any fears that she may not be fit enough to take her place in the Solheim Cup side. Two weeks ago doctors diagnosed that the Order of Merit leader was suffering from viral memingitis.

'I have crossed the Atlantic 10 times this year and no wonder I feel lethargic but I will be all right for Dalmahoy.' she said.

IBM OPEN (Stockholm) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 68 H Alfredsson (Swe), L Davies. 69 *A Sorenstam (Swe). 70 L Fairclough. 71 C Dibnah (Aus), C Hjalmarsson (Swe), C Soules (Fr), H Wadsworth. 72 J Shearwood (Aus), D Reid, M-L de Lorenzi (Fr), C Nilsmark (Swe), B New, J Arnold (NZ), D Barnard, J Kinloch, J Forbes. 73 J Furby, S Waugh (Aus), M Lunn (Aus), T Johnson, L Neumann (Swe), K Espinasse (Fr), E Dahllof (Swe), K Orum (Den), X Wunsch (Sp), S Gronberg (Swe), F Dassu (It), K Douglas, S Shapcott.* denotes amateur