Golf: Davies short of Wright moves

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ONCE again the old adage about driving for show and putting for dough was illustrated when Laura Davies handed in a 69 five minutes before Alison Nicholas completed a 70 in the opening round of the BMW European Masters yesterday, writes John Bolton from Bercuit, Belgium.

'I couldn't have played better. I missed only two greens but I three-putted three times. A 69 was very disappointing,' Davies said. The former British and US Open champion had 34 putts in a round containing five birdies and an eagle. Nicholas, meanwhile, admitted she did not hit the ball with her usual authority but said: 'I had only 29 putts.'

Here was the difference between the two Solheim Cup players, with Nicholas finding her touch by holing from 35 and 12 feet for consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh.

An eagle at the 451-yard 13th, where she struck a four-iron to 10 feet, was the highlight for Davies. Another eagle beckoned at the long 16th after a five-iron to eight feet, but Davies missed the putt. It was that sort of day.

Even so, Davies was only two strokes behind Pam Wright, her Solheim Cup colleague, whose six-under 67 equalled the course record. It was an impressive round by the Scot, who never exceeded par.

BMW EUROPEAN MASTERS (Bercuit, Bel) Leading first-round scores (GB or Ire unless stated): 67 P Wright. 69 L Davies. 70 T Johnson, L Hackney, A Nicholas, M-L de Lorenzi. 71 D Petrizzi (US), H Dobson, L Neumann (Swe), L Maritz-Atkins (SA), D Reid. 72 K Parker (US), S Waugh (Aus), R Lautens (Swit), V Palli (Fra), G Stewart. 73 S Gautrey (Aus), J Soulsby, C Hjalmarsson (Swe), Li Wen-Lin (Tai), W Dicks.