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Johnson puts putting problems behind her to take lead

England's Trish Johnson put her recent putting problems behind her as she carded a flawless five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Marrakesh Open.

England's Trish Johnson put her recent putting problems behind her as she carded a flawless five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Marrakesh Open.

Johnson posted five birdies over the sun-baked Palmeraie resort for the day's best round and leads on seven under par from the in-form Spaniard Raquel Carriedo and Denmark's Karin Orum, who posted 69 and 68 respectively. Victory for Johnson tomorrow would go some way to redeeming what has been a frustrating season for the 33-year-old Londoner.

Despite winning the French Open in July, the Solheim Cup regular has squandered a number of good opportunities to add to her collection of European titles, the most glaring coming last month in the Italian Open when she three-putted the last to miss out on a play-off.

"To say I've been a little frustrated with my final rounds recently is an understatement. I think I've blown it three or four times because I've finished off so badly," said Johnson, the winner of ten events in Europe since turning professional in 1987.

"But I've reverted to a conventional putting grip, my putting is better and I'm close to playing some very good golf. Thankfully I didn't miss any close ones today."

Despite her profligacy, Johnson has amassed eight top-10 finishes this season, including a play-off loss to Sweden's Sofia Gronberg Whitmore in the Cantor Fitzgerald Laura Davies Invitational at Brocket Hall.

In her last six European outings Johnson has finished no lower than joint-ninth, and has already secured fourth spot on the final moneylist for the 1999 Ladies European Tour (LET).

With Carriedo displaying similar consistency this season, the duo are no strangers to each others game and will become even better acquainted tomorrow. "Yes we're getting to know each other quite well," added a smiling Johnson after posting 33 and 34 either side of the turn. "Raquel (Carriedo) has been putting very well this week."

Carriedo posted seven birdies over the 6,237-yard Palmeraie layout, but double bogeys at the fourth, where she found the water, and the 12th, when she had an unplayable lie, kept her one behind her English rival. "I had lots of birdies and was hitting it pretty close most of the day," said Carriedo, still looking for her first win as a professional.

"I'm a little surprised how well I've played because I was laid up in bed for 10 days with flu prior to coming out here. My aim now is to win an event. I've come very close this season and I'm hitting it very solid at the moment so I'm confident I can do it."

Six top-10 finishes this season have also assured the Spaniard a place in the LET team for next month's Praia D'El Rey European Cup against the men's Senior Tour.

The 28-year-old from Zaragoza, who used to be coached by Vicente Ballesteros, brother of Seve, is now likely to finish sixth on the moneylist.

"I'm really looking forward to the European Cup, and although I'd love to make next year's Solheim Cup team it's still early days," added Carriedo.Orum is also looking for her first win as a professional and the mother-of-one gave herself an excellent chance of achieving her goal with four birdies in a bogey-free round.

For most of the season Orum has travelled with her nine-month-old son Thanda (which means Ôlove' in Zulu), but has left him at home this week because of the flight connections needed to get to Marrakesh."My performance is definitely linked to the fact that Thanda is not with me this week," said Orum.

"I think about him all the time but it does allow me to focus more on my game. I've been playing reasonably well all season but it makes it harder having the added responsibility of a child."

England's Joanne Morley carded a two-under-par 70 and lies in fourth place, while the shot of the day, if not the season, came from Caroline Hall of England, whose albatross on the par-five second proved vital to her chances of making the six over par cut.

"I hit a good drive, about 249 yards, and then nailed a three wood 213 yards from the pin ÿ I knew I'd hit it close, I really stiffed it," said Hall, who lies tied for 52nd on five over par.

Collated Second Round Scores and Totals in the Marrakesh Palmeraie Open in Morocco (GB and Irl unless stated)

137 T Johnson 70 67138 K Orum (Den) 70 68, R Carriedo (Spa) 69 69 140 J Morley 70 70 141 V Stensrud (Nor) 70 71, E Steen (Swe) 72 69 142 M De Boer (Ned) 72 70, N Karlsson 71 71, A Munt (Aus) 72 70, J Leary (Aus) 69 73, W Dicks 72 70, K Taylor 69 73, M Hedblom (Swe) 71 71 143 S Dickens 71 72, E Poburski (Ger) 67 76, C Schmitt (Fra) 69 74, E Ratcliffe 72 71, A Arruti (Spa) 72 71, V Van Ryckeghem (Bel) 71 72, J Mills (Aus) 68 75, A Larraneta (Spa) 71 72 144 S Arricau (France) 68 76, N Moult 73 71, D Booker (Aus) 75 69, A Rogers 74 70, S Gustafson (Swe) 71 73, S Gronberg Whitmore (Swe) 73 71, S Head 69 75 145 R Lautens (Swi) 74 71, L Fairclough 72 73, K Marshall 74 71, C Kuld (Den) 74 71, L Tadiotto (Bel) 75 70, M Vierspieran (Fra) 71 74, L Maritz (Rsa) 72 73 146 M Monnet (Fra) 72 74, M Lojdahl (Swe) 72 74, J Van Hagen (Ned) 71 75, S Mendiburu (Fra) 75 71, S Strudwick 75 71 147 M Hageman (Ned) 74 73, P Sterner (Swe) 74 73, I Maconi (Ita) 73 74, M L de Lorenzi (France) 74 73 148 S Westling (Swe) 74 74, T Craik 76 72, S Fischer (Aut) 74 74, C Dibnah (Aus) 72 76, L Brooky (Nzl) 74 74, J Forbes 75 73 149 V Roques (Fra) 75 74, R Hakkarainen (Fin) 73 76, L Kreutz (Fra) 74 75, R Kirkwood 76 73, M Arruti (Spa) 78 71, C Hall 70 69, S Eklund (Swe) 71 78 150 J Stalvant (Sweden) 75 75

Missed Cut 151 - K Andersson (Swe) 75 76, X Wunsch-Ruiz (Spa) 75 76, J Castanier (Fra) 72 79, C Lundgreen (Den) 77 74 152 - J Oliver 79 73, K Thomas 76 76, C Duffy 74 78, S Forster 72 80 153 S Prosser 78 75, L Ericsson (Swe) 79 74, S Elliott 74 79 154 G Stewart 78 76 155 M McKay 79 76156 T Lipp (Can) 79 77, B Hackett 80 76157 S Bennett 76 81158 L Greve (Den) 78 80 159 - M Amalou (Tun) 79 80, S Melin (Swe) 82 77 161 A Kohlwes (Swe) 78 83 165 C Viellard (Fra) 81 84170 C Trussoni-Rivella (Swi) 84 86