Sat, Jul 24, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Karen Stupples leads Evian field

AP , EVIAN, FRANCE ANDMILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

Annika Sorenstam of Sweden during the second day of the Evian Masters women's golf tournament in Evian, France, Thursday. Sorenstam carded a 69 for the day.

PHOTO: AP

England's Karen Stupples shot a 6-under 66 to edge into the lead of the Evian Masters tournament after a balmy second round Thursday.

Under warm, windless conditions, Stupples finished 10-under overall at 134, putting here a shot clear of Laura Davies, the leader after the first round, and world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam.

Sorenstam carded a 69 whiled Davies, who recovered from a disastrous start and eagled the 18th, had a 71. Amateur teen phenom Michelle Wie shot her second 71 to finish tied at 26th.

The stocky, 31-year-old Stupples, who collected her first LPGA title this year after four seasons on Tour, picked up seven birdies and only slipped once over par in her 66.

"That was all-round enjoyable," said Stupples, who will be paired Friday with Sorenstam, for the second time this year. "But I must admit I'm a bit surprised to find myself leading."

At the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia in February, Stupples shot 70 and 68 in the last two rounds, but Sorenstam came from behind to win by 4 shots with two 65s.

"That would be lovely to do again. Certainly, I'm playing really good right now," Sorenstam said, though she felt "a little disappointed how I finished" on Thursday.

"I just hit every lip of every hole today," she added.

Stupples said she's aware of what the Swedish world No. 1 is capable of in latter rounds.

"If Annika can win by 20, she will," Stupples said. "She always wants more. That's what Australia taught me."

Davies bogeyed four of the first five holes and became so frustrated that she felt like taking a break for some refreshment at one point.

"Frankly, I considered heading for the beer-tent," she said, before settling down with birdies at 7 and 9. She eagled the 18th with a great 212-yard 4-iron to six feet.

Wie had six birdies and five bogeys on her card.

US Women's Open champion Meg Mallon shot a 69 to move up the ranks and tie 17th at 140, six shots off the pace. Defending champion Juli Inkster had a 73 to tie 28th.

US Bank Championship

Two shots off the lead after the opening round wasn't enough to get onto the first page of the leaderboard.

For just the second time at a PGA Tour event, there was an eight-way tie for first place after the opening round. Another 10 golfers are one shot back at the tournament formerly known as the Greater Milwaukee Open.

"A lot of people, a lot of golf [left]," said Danny Briggs, whose 5-under 65 tied him with Todd Fischer, Bo Van Pelt, Brett Quigley, Patrick Sheehan, Brian Kortan, Robert Gamez and Olin Browne for the first-round lead.

The 2000 Honda Classic had the only other eight-way tie for first after one round, according to the PGA Tour, which began keeping such statistics in 1970.

The top 70 golfers, plus ties, after Friday's second round will make the cut.

With the first title sponsor in the event's 37-year history, the Milwaukee tour stop has a new name. It also has a budding reputation. Brown Deer Park is beefed up. The greens are firmer than normal and the notoriously deep rough is nastier than ever.

"Last year I remember the rough being up here, too," Fischer said. "But there's some spots here that you might need a Weed Eater to get out."

Among those at 66 were Paul Azinger, who called this "a mini-US Open," and Jerry Kelly, who described it best when he said the rough he encountered on No. 15 was "a bird's nest in a hawk's nest."

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