Davies powers into 2-shot lead

Long hitting conquers par 5s in du Maurier

Inkster falls 4 back

August 01, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PRIDDIS, Alberta -- If Juli Inkster is to win her third major of the year, she will have to catch Laura Davies.

Inkster fell four strokes back yesterday, as Davies shot a 3-under-par 69. Davies used her length to overpower most of the par 5's and held a two-stroke lead over Dawn Coe-Jones of Canada after the third round of the du Maurier Classic.

Davies is 9-under for the tournament (207), two strokes ahead of Coe-Jones, who shot a 72, and three strokes ahead of Catriona Matthew of Scotland, who also shot a 72.

Inkster struggled to a 74, leaving her at 5-under for the tournament, tied with Karrie Webb, who shot a 66 to roar into contention.

The final round at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club will be pressure-packed for Inkster, who would clinch a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame with a victory. And Inkster is also trying to become only the second player to win three of the four LPGA modern majors in the same year, joining Pat Bradley, who won three majors in 1986.

Although Inkster was not thrilled with her performance yesterday, she hardly saw her four-shot deficit as insurmountable.

"I'm going to have to shoot a real good score tomorrow, because I don't see Laura backing up," said Inkster, who suffered her first over-par round since April, ending a streak of 27 rounds. "I know I'm capable of shooting some good scores and getting that putter going."

It was a strange round for Inkster, who struggled uncharacteristically with her putter, even missing a two-footer on No. 12 for a costly bogey. Meanwhile, Davies was solid during a round that included five birdies and just two bogeys.

Davies has won four career majors, including the 1996 du Maurier, and she is usually a strong front-runner. Asked about her strategy for today, Davies said she planned to remain aggressive.

"If I shoot the best round tomorrow, then obviously I win," Davies said. "That is my plan tomorrow, get out, make some birdies and not too many mistakes. Any of the names on that leader board can go out and shoot the 66, 65. You can't sit back, because the minute you sit back, somebody is going to go straight past you."

Davies started the day at 6-under, one stroke behind Inkster and Coe-Jones, but she took the lead on the back nine with a birdie on the par 5, 517-yard 12th hole. Capable of driving the ball almost 300 yards in the 4,000-foot altitude, Davies can reach all of the par-5 greens in two shots, while many of her competitors need three shots. Davies birdied three of the five par 5 holes yesterday, and she is eight under par on the par 5's for the tournament. Meanwhile, Davies has played her short game smartly as well, using irons off the tee for accuracy and avoiding the rough.

"The others stand up there with drivers, and they still have a narrow target," Davies said. "They can afford to miss the fairways even less than I can."

But if Davies falters, a handful of players are waiting to take advantage, including Webb, the tour's leading money-winner, who has won five times this year but has yet to win a major. Webb was aggressive off the tee, then made putts once she reached the green.

"In my position, I had to do what I did or I didn't have a chance of winning," said Webb, who started the day at one over par, eight strokes off the lead. "Today, I rolled the first putt in, then took it from there."

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