Hodge milks the good greens

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The world No 1, Laura Davies, had to take a back seat yesterday when she was upstaged by Susan Hodge and Tracey Loveys who had four-under-par opening rounds of 68 to lead in the Ford Women's Classic.

Davies, whose previous 11 rounds on the LPGA Tour in the United States had all been below par, had a 73 on her first outing in Europe this year. Two over par after only four holes was not the start Davies had in mind after breaking the $2m barrier in earnings on the Tour last weekend. Two of her three birdies came at the long holes but she twice took three putts from 25 feet.

"The greens are fantastic, super surfaces, but they are much slower than the greens I have been playing on recently. It is just a question of adjusting," said Davies who comfortably leads the LPGA money list after two victories this year.

Hodge, better known in her amateur days as Susan Shapcott, took two years off in 1991 and worked a milk round and in a bar. "I had played international golf since the age of 14 and the pressure and travelling really got to me," she explained.

But the West Country golfer has improved in each of her last two years and she has set a target of finishing in the top 20 in the rankings this year.

Last week Hodge finished 10th in Portugal and an outward run of 32 with three birdies in five holes from the sixth laid the foundations for her 68. The only blemish was a bogey at the 13th where her ball finished in a footprint in a bunker.

Loveys, whose best performance was 45th place in the same event last year, matched Hodge's haul of five birdies. Four of these were fashioned with putts of under six feet before holing her longest putt of the day from 25 feet for a two at the short 17th hole.

Spanish Open, page 39