Davies opens five–stroke lead in Rochester

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The Independent Online

A rejuvenated Laura Davies shot a 3–under 69 on Saturday to move five shots ahead of Brandie Burton and Maria Hjorth at the Rochester International.

"I felt good out there," said Davies, a 19–time winner on the LPGA Tour who's coming off the worst slump of her 14–year career. "I can't say I'm confident but I'm enjoying it."

Helped by accurate tee shots and excellent putting, Davies had her third sub–70 round to move to 11–under 205. Burton, who hasn't won since 1998, shot a 73. Hjorth, a Swede who won twice in 1999, had a 69. They were at 210.

Davies, who missed the cut in four of her previous five tournaments, said she's become more relaxed with each day.

"I wasn't looking for bad shots today like I have been, I was looking for good shots," she said.

"I want to win more than anything. The first thing tomorrow is to go out and try and shoot in the 60s again and that won't be beaten. If that doesn't go to plan – just try and hang on and win it with whatever score."

Burton moved within a shot of Davies with two birdies before the turn, but she fell back with four bogeys on the back nine. Still, she said, "I don't think Laura is out of reach."

Emilee Klein, a two–time winner in 1996, was at 211 after a 69. Becky Iverson was at 213 after a 68 – the day's best round.

Defending champion Meg Mallon, a 13–time tour winner, bogeyed three holes in a row on the back nine for a 76 that dropped her to 219. Opening–round leader Leta Lindley (76) was at 221.

The dlrs 1 million tournament at the tree–lined Locust Hill course is missing Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb, who took a week's break between the U.S. Women's Open and the dlrs 2.1 million Evian Masters in France.

Dottie Pepper, the only top–10 money–winner in the field, withdrew Friday after a recurrence of a back injury.

Only two tournament winners in 2001 were playing – Wendy Doolan of Australia, who missed the cut, and Rosie Jones, who was at 216 after a 69. Jones and Juli Inkster are the only Americans to win on tour this year.

Davies sank a 15–foot birdie putt at No. 3 and recovered from a poor bunker shot at No. 8 to make another birdie from 18 feet. On the par–5 17th, she pulled out her driver for the first time, smacked the ball 273 yards and finished with a birdie.

Her fortunes lifted dramatically this week when she returned to more flexible graphite shafts. She had switched to steel shafts when she picked up a new equipment sponsor six months ago.

Her most recent win was 16 months ago at the Los Angeles Women's Championship. Before Rochester, her last sub–70 round was a 4–under 68 at the Nabisco Championship in March.

LPGA Rochester International, Collated third round scores (USA unless stated, Par72)

205 L Davies (Eng) 68 68 69

210 M Hjorth (Swe) 70 71 69, B Burton 68 69 73

211 E Klein 68 74 69

212 K Kuehne 73 69 70

213 B Iverson 70 75 68, T Green 70 72 71, M McKay (Sco) 70 73 70, B Mucha 75 68 70

214 J Lidback (Per) 72 71 71

215 D Andrews 70 73 72, M Estill 70 76 69, W Ward 72 71 72

216 L Diaz 69 72 75, N Scranton 68 75 73, K Saiki 72 69 75, D Ammaccapane 70 71 75, R Jones 74 73 69, G Park (Kor) 70 73 73

217 L Neumann (Swe) 70 74 73, K Stupples 71 72 74, K Parker 74 73 70, A Burks 70 74 73, J Hanna 74 70 73

218 C Figg–Currier 73 71 74, S Steinhauer 75 72 71, A Dibos 73 74 71, A Fruhwirth (Cyp) 71 73 74, H Daly–Donofrio 72 73 73, K Williams 71 77 70

219 D Killeen 70 73 76, J McGill 70 72 77, L Spalding 72 72 75, M Mallon 69 74 76, D Richard 74 73 72, S Turner 71 73 75, D Delasin 71 74 74

220 T Barrett 73 74 73, V Odegard 74 74 72, J Rosales (Par) 72 71 77, F Pike 73 74 73, K Pearce 71 76 73, C Wood 72 74 74, J Jang (Kor) 71 76 73, A Stanford 77 71 72, J Gallagher–Smith 71 73 76

221 P Sinn (Kor) 70 77 74, L Lindley 67 78 76, C Flom 73 75 73, AJ Eathorne 72 76 73, V Skinner 71 76 74

222 M Morris 76 71 75, L Bemvenuti (Bra) 74 73 75, L Sugg 74 75 73

223 J Bartholomew 68 78 77, S Strudwick (Sco) 75 71 77, D Coe–Jones (Can) 70 77 76, S Green 76 73 74

224 J Feldott 72 72 80, J Carner 74 74 76, T Fischer (Ger) 70 75 79, L Kean 75 74 75, D Mazzuca 75 70 79

225 J Crafter 72 77 76, M Dunn 72 76 77, D D'Alessio 77 72 76

226 M Edge 75–73–78

227 L Rinker–Graham 77 70 80, M Lovander 73 76 78, T Durdin 74 73 80

228 C Gowan 75 74 79

230 L Kiggens 70 78 82, C Hajjar (Aus) 77 69 84

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