Maritz-Atkins takes lead with career best

Golf

BILL JOHNSON

reports from Zell-am-See, Austria

For once Britain's Laura Davies was relegated to a supporting role when a 70 left her five strokes behind the South African Laurette Maritz-Atkins, whose eight-under-par 65 gave her the first-round lead in the OVB Austrian Open here yesterday.

It has been a long wait for Maritz-Atkins. She won the Marbella Open on her European debut, but has not had a victory since winning the last of three titles five years ago.

Yesterday's effort was the lowest round of her career. She opened with three successive birdies to be out in 32 then added four birdies in five holes from the short 11th where she rolled in a putt of 25 feet for her two.

It left the South African one stroke clear of the Australian, Wendy Doolan, who also never exceeded par. Doolan, losing finalist in the 1991 British amateur, holed putts of between 10 and 30 feet for her six birdies.

They looked like being joined by Britain's Lora Fairclough, who was six under par after 12 holes. But, on the 13th tee, Fairclough's mother told her she had become an aunt and she dropped strokes at three of the next four holes to finish on 70.

Davies, playing the course for the first time, had bogeys on three of her opening eight holes, but birdies at the last two for her 70 leaves her not too far away with three rounds remaining.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 27

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