Fearful Davies shares the lead with Head

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Laura Davies won the first round of her battle with the "golfing gods" after just managing to finish at the 18th and share the lead at the Weetabix Women's British Open here yesterday. In miserably damp conditions, Davies moved swiftly from the 17th green to the last tee to drive off before the klaxon went to suspend play for the day just after 8.30pm.

Having done so, her group could complete the hole and although she missed from eight feet for another birdie, Davies's 68, four under par, put her in a tie for the lead with Johanna Head. Janice Moodie,of Scotland, had a bogey at the 16th to also lie at four under with two holes to complete this morning.

Play was suspended for three hours in the late afternoon when heavy rain waterlogged the course. Davies had then just had a birdie at the 11th and she returned to hole an 18-footer for another at the 12th. "That was a nice way to start back up but, after the rain, the last few holes were playing seriously long," Davies said. "I played really well." Apart from a poor tee shot at the par-three 15th, which cost only her second bogey of the round, Davies managed to par in. The 38-year-old, who lives only five minutes from the course, has not won the British Open since 1986 and is keen to win it again. The event is now designated a major on the LPGA Tour and victory would give her enough points to qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame. "I am not sure the golfing gods would allow it," Davies said.

Annika Sorenstam, playing with Davies, returned a 70, but, earlier in the day, Karrie Webb struggled to a 74, two over par. Webb has been on such a roll in major championships, winning the last two, that a poor start is as surprising as when Tiger Woods fails to fire.

The Australian had birdies at the first three holes but after the gentle opening ­ Marina Arruti had an eagle at the first and the second ­ Sunningdale's Old Course gets its revenge over the closing holes. Webb, after only one day's preparation having arrived from California only on Tuesday night, had bogeys at each of the last three.

"It wasn't very good," she said. "I just played bad. It happens. It was a bit of everything." On Monday, Webb played with David Duval against Tiger Woods and Sorenstam. She was unable, or unwilling, to reveal anything she had learnt from the experience. Head, whose identical twin, Sam, was five over after 14 holes, has been learning from the stars by more remote means.

The 28-year-old from Ascot, whose day was slightly spoilt by taking three putts at the last, has been reading a book entitled Putting out of your Mind by the American sports psychologist Bob Rotella. "Reading about the experiences of the top players has helped a lot," Head said. "It's good to know that when you have a six-footer and your hands are shaking, you can still make it. David Duval had an eagle putt for a 59 and said he was shaking, but went through the same routine he does every time and made it."

The twins just missed out on having their names up on the honours board in the clubhouse when they lost in the final of the club's famous Foursomes tournament last year.

"I have played the course thousands of times," Jo said. "I have got to know the greens quite well and that helped because there were a lot of tricky pins out there."

Comparing herself with her twin, Jo said: "I am longer on my woods but our irons are quite similar and Sam is a very, very good putter. I think I am quite a good putter, but Sam holes everything." That may be the reason why Sam has won twice on the Evian European Tour, while Jo is awaiting her maiden win.

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