Davies pays for putting problem

Laura Davies has a problem in her attempt to win the US Women's Open that most of her male counterparts would appreciate. For Tiger Woods, read Karrie Webb.

Laura Davies has a problem in her attempt to win the US Women's Open that most of her male counterparts would appreciate. For Tiger Woods, read Karrie Webb.

While Davies continued to struggle on the greens at the Merit Club here, Webb's wonderful putting was putting her in command ahead of today's final round. The Australian picked up six birdies against two bogeys in a four-under-par third round of 68, the best of the day, and opened a four-shot lead over Meg Mallon, who started the day as leader, on a seven-under-par aggregate of 209.

Davies was level par for the day and for the tournament after trading off three birdies against three bogeys. She created several birdie opportunities with some excellent approach play but struggled to convert them. Typical of her form on the greens, she holed from about five feet for a birdie at 13 but gave that shot back at the 17th by missing from similar range.

That lapse left only Webb and Mallon under par for the tournament, as the American Cristie Kerr also squandered a promising start.

Although six shots off the pace, Davies was still far better off than Kathryn Marshall, who began the day alongside her after two level-par rounds, but fell back with a five-over-par 77. Having reached the turn in one-over 37, Marshall suffered on the back nine with four more bogeys.

Joanne Morley, who began the day one over par, had bogeys at the first and sixth to reach the turn two over on the day and could not claw those shots back on the inward half.

Webb's putting swept her past Mallon and into the lead by the fourth where she collected four birdies on the front nine, and she picked up two more on the inward half. Nevertheless, Mallon could have begun today only two shots adrift had she not had a double-bogey on the 17th after driving into the rough.

Webb, the women's No 1, said that after the early birdies she did not become over-excited. She said: "My biggest problem is staying in the present and not looking too far ahead." She may already be too far anyone to stop her winning her first US Women's Open.

Third-round scores from the $2.75 million US Women's Open at Merit Club (US unless stated, a-amateur):

209 Karrie Webb (Australia) 69 72 78 213 Meg Mallon 68 72 73 216 Laura Davies (Britain) 73 71 72, Mi Hyun Kim (South Korea) 74 72 70, Rosie Jones 73 71 72, Dorothy Delasin 76 68 72 217 Juli Inkster 70 74 73, Pat Hurst 73 72 72, Shani Waugh (Australia) 69 75 73, Beth Daniel 71 74 72, Lorie Kane (Canada) 71 74 72 218 Kelly Robbins 74 73 71, Kelli Kuehne 71 74 73 219 Joanne Morley (Britain) 73 72 74, Hiromi Kobayashi (Japan) 77 72 70, Jennifer Rosales 75 75 69, Grace Park 74 72 73 220 Wendy Doolan (Australia) 77 69 74, Silvia Cavalleri (Italy) 72 73 75 221 Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) 73 75 73, Kristi Albers 71 77 73, Michele Redman 74 74 73, Jackie Gallagher-Smith 71 77 73, Sophie Gustafson (Sweden) 72 78 71, Kathryn Marshall (Britain) 72 72 77, Carin Koch (Sweden) 75 73 73 223 Jenny Lidback (Peru) 73 74 76, Kate Golden 75 72 76, Sara Sanders 72 78 73, A.J. Eathorne (Canada) 73 77 73, Fiona Pike (Australia) 72 74 77, Kellee Booth 70 78 75, a-Naree Song Wongluekiet (Thailand) 74 76 73 224 Jan Stephenson 73 74 77, Emilee Klein 77 72 75, Mary Beth Zimmerman 77 72 75, Pak Se Ri (South Korea) 74 75 75, Danielle Ammaccapane 72 73 79, Jae Jean Ro 74 76 74 225 Tina Barrett 72 78 75, Janice Moodie (Britain) 73 77 75, Charlotta Sorenstam (Sweden) 75 74 76, Val Skinner 74 76 75 226 Jean Zedlitz 73 76 77, Barb Mucha 74 75 77, Anna Macosko 73 76 77 227 Catriona Matthew (Britain) 74 75 78, Nancy Lopez 76 74 77, Pearl Sinn 74 76 77, Donna Andrews 73 75 79, Jill McGill 73 77 77, Marisa Baena 73 76 78 228 Nancy Scranton 80 70 78, Carri Wood 73 77 78, a-Hilary Homeyer 73 75 80 229 Michelle McGann 77 73 79 231 Leta Lindley 73 77 81, Michelle Ellis 76 74 81

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