Marshall joins Davies in title hunt

Laura Davies and Kathryn Marshall kept up the British challenge at the halfway stage of the US women's Open at the Merit Club here, near Chicago, but their reactions at finishing four behind the American leader, Meg Mallon, could not have been more different.

Laura Davies and Kathryn Marshall kept up the British challenge at the halfway stage of the US women's Open at the Merit Club here, near Chicago, but their reactions at finishing four behind the American leader, Meg Mallon, could not have been more different.

Marshall, who has struggled since playing in the Solheim Cup in 1996, was ecstatic to be in contention after a second successive 72, but Davies thought she had let a lot of chances slip away in a 71.

"I got a bit panicky when I three-putted the eighth for bogey and I felt it should have been a lot better," Davies, the 1987 champion, said. "I stuck in there but my putting is beginning to get me down. I'm hitting the ball as well as anyone and I must have a chance if I can start to hole a few."

For Marshall, a four-birdie round was welcome relief from a couple of seasons of real hardship. "It hasn't been good," she said. "But I've started working with a sports psychologist and I'm beginning to feel more comfortable on the course. I feel I'm beginning to get back to where I should be."

With strong winds making scoring far from easy, Marshall's only real blunder was a double-bogey six at the 15th, where she drove into the penal rough and then took three more to reach the green. But she saved the best for last, hitting the green in two for a two-putt birdie at the long 18th.

Cheshire's Joanne Morley, the winner of the German Open two weeks ago, also stayed in the hunt on a bunched leaderboard after a 72 for one-over-par 145.

Mallon, the 1991 winner, got to five under after 12 holes, but eventually had to birdie the long 18th, getting down in two from the fringe, for a 72 to maintain her one-shot overnight lead on four-under-par 140 over her compatriot Betsy King and Australia's world No 1, Karrie Webb. King, a veteran at 44, had a 70, while Webb had a 72.

Mallon had seven single putts as she continuously scrambled for par during her round. But she hit a seven-wood to the back of the green at the par-five 18th and followed that by chipping to two feet to earn her fourth birdie and her slender lead.

Scores after the second round of the $2.8 U.S. Women's Open, played on the 6,540-yard (5951.4-meter), par-72 Merit Club (a-denotes amateur).

Meg Mallon 68-72-140 Betsy King 71-70-141 Karrie Webb 69-72-141 Cristie Kerr 72-71-143 Juli Inkster 70-74-144 Dorothy Delasin 76-68-144 Laura Davies 73-71-144 Rosie Jones 73-71-144 Shani Waugh 69-75-144 Kathryn Marshall 72-72-144 Lorie Kane 71-74-145 Joanne Morley 73-72-145 Silvia Cavalleri 72-73-145 Pat Hurst 73-72-145 Kelli Kuehne 71-74-145 Beth Daniel 71-74-145 Danielle Ammaccapane 72-73-145 Fiona Pike 72-74-146 Wendy Doolan 77-69-146 Grace Park 74-72-146 Mi Hyun Kim 74-72-146 Kate Golden 75-72-147 Jan Stephenson 73-74-147 Kelly Robbins 74-73-147 Jenny Lidback 73-74-147 Donna Andrews 73-75-148 Kellee Booth 70-78-148 Kristi Albers 71-77-148 Michele Redman 74-74-148 Carin Koch 75-73-148 a-Hilary Homeyer 73-75-148 Annika Sorenstam 73-75-148 Jackie Gallagher-Smith 71-77-148 Emilee Klein 77-72-149 Charlotta Sorenstam 75-74-149 Mary Beth Zimmerman 77-72-149 Anna Macosko 73-76-149 Jean Zedlitz 73-76-149 Barbara Mucha 74-75-149 Marisa Baena 73-76-149 Catriona Matthew 74-75-149 Se Ri Pak 74-75-149 Hiromi Kobayashi 77-72-149 Michelle Ellis 76-74-150 Michelle McGann 77-73-150 Nancy Scranton 80-70-150 Jennifer Rosales 75-75-150 a-Jae Jean Ro 74-76-150 Leta Lindley 73-77-150 Carri Wood 73-77-150 Sophie Gustafson 72-78-150 Valerie Skinner 74-76-150 A. J. Eathorne 73-77-150 Tina Barrett 72-78-150 Jill McGill 73-77-150 Sara Sanders 72-78-150 Nancy Lopez 76-74-150 Pearl Sinn 74-76-150 Janice Moodie 73-77-150 a-Naree Wongluekiet 74-76-150

Failed to qualify

Mhairi McKay 80-71-151 Diane Barnard 78-73-151 Amy Fruhwirth 79-72-151 Sherri Steinhauer 72-81-153 Cindy Figg-Currier 77-76-153 Patty Sheehan 76-77-153 Rachel Hetherington 78-75-153 Brandie Burton 78-76-154 Chris Johnson 80-75-155 Maria Hjorth 77-78-155 Alison Nicholas 74-81-155 Mardi Lunn 77-79-156 Liselotte Neumann 80-76-156 Becky Iverson 77-79-156 Cindy McCurdy 77-80-157 Akiko Fukushima 76-81-157 Helen Dobson 76-81-157 Gloria Park 81-79-160 Pat Bradley 75-86-161 Helen Alfredsson 78-83-161 Dottie Pepper 76-WD

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