Originally created 05/07/00

Davies battles wind to take 3-stroke lead



AUSTIN, Texas -- A big wind was little trouble for Laura Davies.

Davies battled through wind gusts of up to 30 mph Saturday to shoot a 2-under-par 68 and take a three-stroke lead after the third round of the Philips Invitational.

Davies, who already won the Los Angeles Women's Championship this year, heads into Sunday's final round at 7 under for the tournament and looking for her 60th international victory and 19th on the LPGA Tour.

"I feel very in control of the golf ball, even in these conditions," Davies said. "I've probably putted better than anybody this week. That's unquestionably why I'm leading."

Tammie Green, who almost pulled out of the tournament Friday because of a stomach virus that caused her to vomit on the course, chipped in twice on the last two holes to card a 67 for a share of second place with Susie Redman at 4 under.

Sweden's Charlotta Sorenstam, the former University of Texas star who finished second last year, and Sherri Steinhauer, the first-round co-leader, were four strokes back at 3 under on the 6,101-yard Onion Creek Club course.

Saturday's gusts blew some of Friday's top contenders off the leaderboard.

Sherri Turner, the co-leader after the first two rounds and looking for her first victory since 1989, got off to a horrid start with two bogeys and a double-bogey on her first three holes. She shot a 75 for an even-par total.

Defending champion Akiko Fukushima of Japan started the round one behind Davies but also struggled early. She bogeyed the first three holes and never recovered.

"It was tough to pull the right club," in the wind, Green said. "There were times you second guessed yourself."

Davies, meanwhile, had little of the same troubles.

The English star hasn't used her driver since the first round of last weekend's Chick-fil-A Charity Championship and cut through the course Saturday with a steady diet of 3-irons.

"I can control the ball under the wind when I'm hitting my 3-iron," she said. "If it's windy out there tomorrow, it won't bother me."

Davies birdied the par-5 first hole and moved to 7 under with another birdie on No. 10 before flying her approach on No. 13 over the green. But she scrambled for bogey to keep a two-stroke lead.

"We were pretty happy with the bogey," Davies said. "It's not the disasters I'm worried about, I just don't want to give shots away."

She got the stroke back when her wedge shot on the uphill par-3 144-yard 17th landed 6 feet from the cup. She parred the last hole to take the three-shot lead into the final round.

Green hasn't won since 1998 and hasn't been in contention since the birth of her daughter, Tina Marie, later that year.

"It was hard to get my swing back after giving birth to Tina. I'm excited to be in this position," Green said.

Redman, a mother of three and a 15-year pro looking for her first victory, bogeyed two of her first three holes but finished with a chip-in birdie on No. 17 to keep Davies within range.

"Today was really tough because I don't hit it that far. I really buckled down around the greens," Redman said.

Sorenstam started the day at even par, and quickly moved up the leader board with three birdies before the turn, including a chip-in from the bunker on No. 3. She moved to 4 under with a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 12 before bogeying the next hole.

"I played with the wind instead of it playing with me," Sorenstam said. "If you think about it too much, it will affect you. It's more mental than technique."

Steinhauer was 5 under after the first round but shot a 76 on Friday. She recovered with a 66, which tied for the low round of the day, to stay in the hunt.

Jill McGill, who was challenging for the lead at 4 under after 15 holes, watched in horror as her second shot on No. 16 drifted right and into a thicket of tall grass and broken branches on a creek bed.

She hacked at the ball three times before it finally got out and took a quintuple-bogey nine to drop off the leaderboard.