Davies is brought down to earth

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Three days after she ended the worst slump of her career with victory in the Wegmens Rochester International in America, Laura Davies struggled to a four-over-par 76 and found herself nine shots off the lead after the first round of the £1.3m Evian Masters in France yesterday.

The Briton failed to make a birdie and was lumbered with a triple-bogey seven at the par-four third, where she took three chips from a fluffy lie right of the green.

The American Beth Daniel took the lead with a five-under-par 67, a round that ended with a birdie from 15 feet at the 17th and an eagle from 45 feet at the last. She led by one from compatriot Wendy Ward and Taiwan's Yu Ping Lin, while the defending champion, Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, was another shot back on 69. The world No 1, Karrie Webb, finished with a round of 71.

Alison Nicholas was the leading Briton, on 70. That honour should have gone to Trish Johnson, who pulled out of last week's French Open with a sore shoulder, but she fluffed a chip at the 18th, taking a double-bogey seven for a 71.

"The seven was really cruel and it is crazy to go round this course without a birdie," Davies said. "But today was destined just not to be and I'm disappointed because I came here focused on another win, but, already, I'm too far back out of it.

"But I'm not too downhearted. Last week was such good fun. I was wondering if I would ever win again, but at least I know that I am playing good golf again."