Davies is one back at 10 under

Originally Published: March 12, 2004
Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. -- After playing the final round with LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam at the ANZ Ladies Masters two weeks ago, Karen Stupples isn't intimidated at heading up a threesome with Laura Davies.

"That was probably more nerve-wracking, I think," Stupples said Friday after taking a one-shot lead over Davies and Jung Yeon Lee midway through the Welch's/Fry's Championship. "And, tomorrow is only Saturday. I can't win the tournament tomorrow anyway."

The Englishwoman, whose second-place finish to Sorenstam at Gold Coast, Australia, was her best at any pro level, was excited to be in a final grouping with the 40-year-old Davies, England's top female golfer. Davies has won 66 career titles, including 20 on the LPGA Tour.

"You grow up, Laura Davies was the idol -- is your idol, really," said Stupples, 30. "She's the one that everybody wants to play like and be like."

For two days, Stupples has trumped Davies, shooting a career-low, 7-under-par 63 in the first round and 66 the next for an 11 under total.

Davies had her second straight 65, while Lee struggled to a 70 after shooting a 60 in the first round, which tied for second-lowest in LPGA Tour history.

Lee was tied for the lead until she bogeyed the final hole, one of four on which her approach shot failed to stick on the green.

"I think the thin air, it goes farther," she said. "And, you know, the green is so firm. I hit the green, but it's over."

Seol-An Jeon was alone at 132 after a 67.

Aree Song, a 17-year-old rookie bidding to become the youngest LPGA tournament winner ever, shot the day's low round at 64 and was five shots back. Grace Park (66), Heather Bowie (67) and Stacy Prammanasudh (69) joined her at 135.

The cut fell at 142, leaving 85 players to divide up the money.

Defending champion Wendy Doolan missed the cut after failing to break par Friday following an opening 74.

Meg Mallon (145) and Helen Alfredsson (146) were other former Tucson champions who got the weekend off. Mallon shot 60 in the second round last year on Randolph Park's Dell Urich Course, which was in use as an LPGA venue for the first time.

The dormant rough has just begun to grow on the 6,176-yard municipal layout, but it was trickier this round.

Lee's uphill chip from deep grass just off the fringe stopped 9 feet from the pin, and she two-putted on her 18th green.

It was the South Korean's third bogey; she had back-to-back miscues on the eighth and ninth holes after balls rolled past the pin.

Stupples echoed Lee's feeling about between-club distances.

"Everything was running out balls, leaving tricky yards," Stupples said. "When you're playing in between shots, it just makes it a little tougher."

Stupples, a back-nine starter, birdied the par-5 fourth hole of her round by getting up and down from a bunker, and holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the fifth. After nine straight pars, she set up a 5-foot birdie putt with a short chip to the 15th green, and took over the lead with another 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.

Davies, who won the Women's Australian Open on Monday, said she likes her chances of getting a win.

"We play a schedule of 34 tournaments," Davies said. "If you can win one in 10, that's a great year. If you win three or four, that's great stuff. That's what I'm trying to do."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press